SEATTLE — For the 11th and final time, Sue Bird will be a starter in the WNBA All-Star Game while Breanna Stewart was chosen as an All-Star Game captain for the first time in her career.
By virtue of garnering the most fan votes, Stewart, who finished second behind Las Vegas Aces forward A'ja Wilson, will also serve as co-captains for the July 10 WNBA All-Star game held at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago.
The league also elected Bird and Minnesota center Sylvia Fowles as co-captains. Bird will be paired with Wilson and Fowles will join Stewart.
Fans accounted for 50% of the vote to determine the 10 starters, while current players and media each comprised 25%.
The other starters include: Chicago forward Candace Parker, Las Vegas guards Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young, Minnesota center Sylvia Fowles, Los Angeles forward Nneke Ogwumike and New York guard Sabrina Ionescu.
WNBA head coaches will vote for three guards, five frontcourt players and four players at either position regardless of conference. They may not vote for their own players and the 12 reserves will be announced June 28.
Stewart/Fowles and Wilson/Bird will draft their respective teams by selecting first from the remaining eight starters and then the 12 reserves.
ESPN will broadcast the WNBA All-Star Team Selection Show on July 2.
The two WNBA head coaches with the best record — regardless of conference — following games on June 24 will coach the All-Star Game. The head coach with the best record will coach the team with the captain who received the most fan votes.
Bird and Fowles, the WNBA's all-time assists and rebounds leader respectively, announced they're retiring after the season and are sure to be dominate headlines at the All-Star game.
However, Fowles is out indefinitely due to a right knee injury and hasn't played since June 7.
Bird, the league's oldest player at 41, will make her 13th WNBA All-Star Game appearance and 11th start — both are league records.
"For icons like Sylvia and Sue to be voted into the AT&T WNBA All-Star Game as starters in their 19th and 15th seasons, respectively, is extraordinary," WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement. "And when you see the starting lineups dotted with first-time All-Stars like Sabrina Ionescu, Kelsey Plum, and Jackie Young, it just seems right that Sylvia and Sue — who have said this will be their final season — join A'ja and Breanna as co-captains for an All-Star event that will in some ways symbolize the passing of the torch to a new generation of WNBA stars."
Stewart has garnered four WNBA All-Star invitations and is making her third start.
"To be honest, the All-Star Game is so complicated because the WNBA hasn't always had an All-Star Game in the Olympic years," said Stewart, who is leading the league with a 21.8 scoring average. "So, the numbers are so skewed."
The WNBA did not conduct an All-Star Game in 2004, 2008, 2010, 2012 or 2016 to accommodate condensed schedules impacted by Summer Olympic Games or FIBA World Championships.
And the 2020 WNBA All-Star Game was canceled because the league played its entire 22-game shortened season on the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Stewart believes the league and players will use this year's All-Star Game to spotlight Phoenix Mercury standout Brittney Griner, a six-time WNBA All-Star, who has been detained in Russia since Feb. 17 on allegations of drug charges.
"The opportunity of being an All-Star is an honor, especially with all the amazing players in this league, but I can't talk about the All-Star Game without talking about BG," Stewart said. "It's been 124 days since she's been wrongfully detained. Just reading the stuff recently about the miscommunication with the U.S. embassy on trying to get a phone call to her. I don't know what to think. But I hope President Biden and the White House get her home soon."
The WNBA selected Griner and honorary All-Star starter and Stewart wants to switch her All-Star Game jersey number to honor the Mercury star.
"I want to wear No. 42 for BG," she said. "I just do. Just to let her know, I'm thinking about her. … And I'm probably not the only one who feels that way. So, we'll see what happens."
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