When you’ve done it all by the age of 26 what do you do next? Who cares right? I mean who among us has ever been in that position. A rather preposterous thought the more you think about it. Age 26 is a starting point. Heck, I was still looking for a permanent job, living at home, working at an outdoor park for the summer.
For a lot of us anyways. Then there is Breanna Stewart, “Stewie” to most who have followed her magical career. Young in age, forever in accomplishment. Four years out of UConn Stewie has a resume that is the size of the U.S. tax code or War and Peace. You know that thing about the next hill to climb? Well, somebody might have to build a hill for her because she has climbed every hill and mountain that can be found right now.
Now Stewie won’t tell you that. None of the great ones ever do, never of them ever believe that. Can you imagine Magic or Larry or Michael ever telling us there is nothing left to play for? Larry was still running stadium steps well into his 30s after winning titles, MVP awards and throwing passes you couldn’t conjure up in your best fantasy. Michael was already the greatest but came back and became greater. Magic found a second life after MVPs and titles and HIV.
There is that unteachable innate drive combined with the rare talent the separates athletes at this level – the greatest from the great. The best find a way to get better. Stewie will find the next challenge but it won’t be about getting there. She’s already there at 26. It will be about staying there.
The Seattle Storm’s sweep of the Las Vegas Aces several weeks ago for the WNBA title reminded us one more time about who Stewart is. If it was easy to lose touch because of Covid-19 and the fact that Stewart lost the 2019 season due to a ruptured achillies just 19 months ago she demanded we took notice again.
The unguardable 6-foot-4 destroyer of defensive game plans, tossed in 37, 22 and 26 points, averaging 28.3 points while shooting 63 percent grabbing almost eight rebounds a game in the series. In the tightest of the three games, Stewart scored the first 11 points of the fourth quarter in the opener to push the storm to victory. Not exactly earth-shattering news, she earned finals MVP honors.
In the excellence of the smaller picture we had to look at the brilliance of the bigger picture. It is stunning.
Two-time WNBA champion
Two-time WNBA finals MVP
Take a breath, we’re just starting.
2016 WNBA Rookie of the Year
4 National Championships at UConn
4 times Most Outanding Player in NCAA Tournament
3 times National Player of the Year
Still with me?
Olympic Gold Medalist
National High School Player of the Year at Cicero-North Syracuse High School in New York
National Gatorade Player of the Year in high school
Selected to 8 gazillion high school, college and WNBA All-Star teams.
So you tell me what is left. Maybe we should investigate the one year Stewart didn’t win College Player of the Year honors. (Baylor’s Brittany Griner won the honors in 2012-13 so we’ll let it go).
This is that buttered lobster roll, that day at the beach with the sand between your toes, the autumn day with the colors offering up an overwhelming magnificence, watching children embrace the Christmas magic. Whatever your vision and version of perfection is, this is it.
Only former Celtics and Lakers’ legends, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul Jabbar had this type of success this early. Stewie could walk away now and her legend would be assured. What does that feel like at 26?
Stewie only talked about how proud she was to come back from the achillies injury and win the title after the finals. Again, the really special ones don’t sit there and proclaim their greatness most of the time especially at 26. Except for Ali. He was always an exception.
So where does Stewie go from here with a career that has miles and years to go? When you do it once, you do it again and you keep doing it. Individually and team-wise each year becomes a start over. You reclimb the mountain and make you own new mountains.
Stewie knows all this. The best get better. They find a new height a new challenge. Whatever the future holds, she already challenges perfection.