WNBA Royalty

Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden offered an interesting dichotomy regarding two former Christ the King stars.
One, Seattle Storm point guard Sue Bird, was working her way back from arthroscopic right knee surgery after suffering a torn meniscus on July 6, while the other, the New York Liberty’s Shay Doron, continued to watch and learn in this, her rookie season in the WNBA.
It ended with a lesson in perseverance and toughness. Doron didn’t play, and for much of the afternoon Bird wasn’t doing much either. In her second game back, she looked gimpy in missing her first six shots.
As the game wound down and the outcome was in the balance, however, Bird didn’t shy away from the final shot. In fact, she sank it, a dead-on 3-pointer with 10.6 seconds remaining, handing the Storm a much-needed 77-75 win over the Liberty.
Of course, few in attendance were surprised, most notably Doron and the Middle Village school’s coach, Bob Mackey, that Bird would put such an exclamation point to the afternoon’s events after such a lackluster showing.
She made the same big shots at Christ the King and the University of Connecticut, where she won a pair of national titles. “You knew she was something special,” Mackey said.
She still is.
The road back has been a quick one; just two weeks ago she underwent surgery. In her first game back, Bird shot 3-of-14 from the field. So, combined she was just 3-for-19 since returning. Still, as the ball found her at the top of the arc - Bird’s favorite spot on the court - she never thought twice about shooting.
“It doesn’t matter if you miss your first 10, you got to think you’ll make your next 10,” she said. “I know it’s a clich/, I know it’s a saying, but you got to keep shooting.”
Doron, meanwhile, had a perfect seat for the play. The guard from Israel, who won a national title at Maryland, the ACC school’s first, received another DNP.
It is a situation she was prepared for. It helped that as the draft neared, she started emailing with Bird back and forth. The two met at CK, when Doron was still a student, and kept in touch through the years.
“Mostly she said be patient with a lot of things,” Doron said. “It’s a whole new system you have to pick up. She said there are lot of great players and a lot of great coaches in the league, and I just have to listen and soak it up like a sponge.”
She did mention one more thing: Enjoy it. They are living their dream, playing basketball on the grandest stages. “I work two hours a day and I’m done,” Doron said.
Of course, there is much more to it, especially for a rookie. Unlike college, Doron is on her own much of the time. She often has to go through her own extra workouts, shooting drills, and training sessions to remain sharp.
Doron plans to get better. She arrived at Christ the King her junior year with intentions of making it to the WNBA one day. Not only did she accomplish that goal, but the former Great Neck resident will play pro ball in Israel once the WNBA season wraps up in September.
“She knows what it takes to win and she knows what it takes to be a winner,” Bird said. “If she plays overseas and gets good experience, which she is planning on doing, and comes back to the WNBA next year, she’ll be able to give her team even more.”
Each is living the life, playing in front of sold-out arenas. There is no doubt that the time the two spent in western Queens during their teenage years enabled them to be paid to play. CTK would have mid-day shoot arounds on game day, an uncommon occurrence at the high school level, and travel across the country for prestigious tournaments.
“Christ the King is almost like a college experience, in terms of the level of play, the way the team conducts themselves,” Bird said. “It’s something that really helped when I went to college. I saw a lot of the same things. I saw the same drills; the coaching was similar.”
“When I went to college,” she later added, “I was used to it.”
Any school would love to produce just one player at this level. Christ the King had two participants in this one game. And with Tina Charles and Lorin Dixon at UConn, and Carrem Gay at Duke, a few more may be on the way.
“That’s the hope,” Mackey said. “To keep the tradition alive.”

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