"Seattle deserves to have this trophy back", Stewart said.
James, of course, knows how it is to be on the other end of a championship loss and wanted to recognize the Mystics for their season.
The Storm got their first taste of life without Bird in the semifinals when she broke her nose and had to sit out the remainder of Game 4 against Phoenix.
For years, Bird has sidestepped talk about when she'll put an end to a Hall-of-Fame bound career that includes two NCAA titles at CT, four Olympic gold medals, three FIBA world championships and four EuroLeague championships.
In 2004, she partnered with Lauren Jackson and Finals MVP Betty Lennox for an unexpected Finals win.
Finally, Wednesday night, the obstacles - namely a truly deserving Seattle Storm team - became one too many. In Game 3, it was do-or-die, win-or-go-home for the D.C. team, but they could not extend their season for the right to a Game 4.
"I don't know if we'd lean one way or another", she said, adding that she's been to the White House several times and that it's "nothing new to me". The now WNBA champions won the battle of the boards, 39-28, and shot a ridiculous 13-for-26 from beyond the arc. Stewart drained all four of her three-point attempts in the first half to build Seattle's insurmountable lead.
"A successful one", veteran guard Kristi Toliver said when asked to evaluate the Mystics' season.
Despite losing in their first Finals appearance in the team's 21-year history, Thibault and the Mystics know that the 9,000-plus fans who traveled 20 miles outside of Washington, D.C., and piled into Eagle Bank Arena know their team, for the first time in nearly a decade, has a bright future.
But what was most noticeable, from a UConn perspective, was that Tiffany Hayes of the Atlanta Dream was also placed on the first team.
"She's victor, what else can I say", Auriemma said, smiling broadly as Breanna Stewart strolled around EagleBank Arena after the Storm's 98-82 win clutching the WNBA trophy in one hand and the Finals MVP award in the other.
Washington shot 43.5 percent from the field (30 of 69) but was 8 of 23 from beyond the 3-point arc. The Mystics trailed by as many as 18 in the third quarter but clawed within five on a Tierra Ruffin-Pratt 3-pointer with 6:49 left, with Delle Donne scoring or assisting on each basket during an 11-1 run.
"The fans did a really good job of getting behind us throughout this run". "This didn't feel like my first trip to the Finals". She detailed little moments along the way of their 2018 season, the things she said she will miss most this fall and winter when everyone goes their separate ways. ".We had a goal and that was to win a championship and every one of us, 1-12, the coaching staff, our entire staff helped us reach this point".