After Sue Bird had beaten the Liberty Wednesday night, she and her Seattle Storm teammates came back to the court, took a seat and paid tribute.
They paid tribute to a player who transcended the game they just played or the color on their jerseys. They paid tribute to a player who Bird described simply as a winner. One that WNBA president Lisa Borders described as a trailblazer, both on the court and off.
Swin Cash ends her 15-year career this year, and she leaves with two Olympic gold medals, three WNBA championships, two NCAA championships. Outspoken in social issues, ever present in the community, and a mainstay on television, Cash has long taken her place in the pantheon of the league’s greats. Yesterday, in a postgame ceremony, Borders, players past and present, her coach Bill Laimbeer and president Isiah Thomas all began the long process of saying goodbye to Cash.
“I’m going to miss you smile,” said Tina Charles, stopping briefly to hold back tears. “I’m going to miss you voice in the locker room and I’m going to miss having my hero around me at all times.”
Cash announced her retirement via the Players’ Tribune in June, and though she hardly commands the minutes she did in her hey-day, she’s been a pivotal member of a Liberty quad that has already secured a first-round bye in this year’s playoffs.
The Liberty dropped Wednesday’s game, 102-78. Jewell Lloyd scored a game-high 25, Breanna Stewart scored 23, with nine rebounds, and Crystal Langhorne added 21 points and nine rebounds.
Now 37, Cash accomplished about everything that’s to be accomplished in women’s basketball, and was recently named one of the 20 top WNBA players of all time. “We are so proud of you,” Borders said. “You have had an enormous career. You have helped cut the path for this league…you have left indelible fingerprints and footprints on this league.”
Added Bird, Cash’s roommate at the University of Connecticut and teammate on the Storm and in the Olympics: “Every team you’ve played for, you’ve touched – the team’s life, the community’s life. When you talk about Swin’s legacy, you’re going to talk about being a winner…No one can take that away from you.”
Cash spent her time in the limelight thanking those who made her career possible and preaching for the future of the WNBA.
“Today is not about me. If I’ve done anything in this league, I hope I’ve given something back to everyone else,” Cash said. She added, addressing young players: “Continue cutting a path.”
And despite all the championships and all the accolades, she said her proudest moment came this year, when she and fellow WNBA players stood up to league fines for wearing shirts emblazoned with #BlackLivesMatter and #DallasFive (the fines were later rescinded). That moment, she said, showed that the WNBA would continue to be on the forefront of social issues and would not back down in the face of controversy.
“One hundred and forty-four women stood up and said we have a voice and we want to talk about issues and if you don’t know, you better ask somebody,” she said to resounding applause. “WNBA players have a platform and we are going to use it…We are going to make you see is and we are not invisible.”
Cash has certainly done everything she could to make that the case.