The objective: get two Seattle legends, Storm guard Sue Hen and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, in dialog with out disruption. No publicists or producers pushing an agenda or script, simply No. 10 and No. three chopping it up. Their flooring to debate the sport, legacy and management throughout a well being pandemic and amid social unrest. The result’s a poignant glimpse into two of sports activities’ best minds and the way they plan to depart their video games and Seattle higher than they have been earlier than they arrived.
This dialog has been edited and condensed for readability.
Affect past the sport
Sue Hen: I admire a very good recreation match. Inform me about while you wore my jersey [recently].
Russell Wilson: How can I not, Sue? You all are the champions coming off the championship. You’ve got modified the sport in so many alternative methods, not only for girls however for males, too, with the way you dominate the sport. The way you dominate professionalism and the way you make an impression on daily basis. My little sister, Anna Wilson, she loves you. She’s a degree driver at Stanford herself. I have been on the highest of you all’s video games, and what I really like about you, specifically, is when you concentrate on it … you are taking part in quarterback on the market. Although I haven’t got the deal with like you could have it.
And to be trustworthy with you, the significance of your jersey is means greater than me, means greater than simply you and I’s relationship. It is actually the importance that you’ve got had on girls’s sports activities and ladies around the globe. It is positively impacted even my circle of relatives, my sister. She’s a younger American lady who has a dream, . I’ve a daughter named Sienna, and hopefully she could be such as you in the future.
And if I could be like Sue Hen, I do know I am doing one thing proper.
Hen: Humorous you say that. As a result of even once I was in school, my coach [Geno Auriemma at UConn] would discuss being a quarterback on the ground. Being that one who is form of just like the voice within the huddle however can also be having to do everyone else’s jobs. As a result of it’s important to predict, it’s important to see issues. It’s a must to monitor conditions. It’s a must to assist your teammates. So, once I watch you play, it is very related. I just like the watching of a play unfold, and also you already know, like, “Oh, if that man simply strikes 1 inch to the left, I acquired him.” And that is how I really feel on the basketball court docket. To see you or to listen to you discuss these issues, I really feel the identical. To see you rock my jersey — I imply, the pregame of all pregame suits for me. I admire that you simply had that factor on backward. Not lots of people know, however the [WNBA] numbers usually are not on the entrance [of the jerseys].
Wilson: The humorous factor is that I used to be like, “OK. I’ll put on this backward so you may see the entrance. You bought to see Hen. You bought to see No. 10. It’s a must to rock the quantity.” And the humorous factor was, I used to be leaving the home and [my wife] Ciara, she offers me a hug and a kiss, and as I am strolling out, she goes, “One factor actual quick.” I stated, “What’s up?” She goes, “You higher not lose in that jersey.”
Mutually respecting the method
Wilson: You’ve got impacted my household and me in many alternative methods. I want I might peek into the thoughts of the way you prepare. Might you stroll me by what that appears like?
Hen: We play video games. There’s not some magic potion. Nevertheless it’s additionally the time and the dedication that it takes. Lots of people, I feel, miss the boat on that. As a result of I can sit right here and inform you, like, “I watch movie.” And I do. I watch loads of movie. Not on myself. I most likely ought to watch extra on myself. However extra of, like, how our staff is functioning. How different groups are going to play us, and the place I can achieve that one second of benefit.
Although basketball’s a 40-minute recreation, it is actually nearly stealing, like, three possessions. After which increase, you would possibly win by six. At any time when I am watching [film], I see how groups guard us, after which I attempt to decide, like, one, two, perhaps three issues the place I am like, “At any given second, from these three issues, I am going to have the ability to steal a possession.” Often, it comes within the type of, , slip a display screen right here or get a mismatch there. However once I go right into a recreation, I positively have, like, a written listing of issues from that preparation. After which what I do is within the shootaround, on recreation day, proper once we’re simply strolling by — I hammer it into my teammates’ heads. Like, “Guys, once I say this, this … , because of this we’re doing it.” To allow them to be on the [same] web page as me. As a result of, once more, I am certain , it is like should you’re not on the identical web page — should you’re considering one factor and your teammate’s considering one other, you may’t join in that means — then it is most likely not going to work. What about you?
Wilson: You talked about there are these moments — I name them GAP performs, game-altering performs. There are these game-altering performs in each recreation; there are these moments in time you could seize, and you may both seize or lose it, let it slip. To have the ability to discover these GAP performs and know when they will occur and visualize them earlier than they even occur, to let your teammates know, “Hey guys, that is what is going on to occur, be prepared for this, be prepared for that, anticipate that is going to occur.” All that dialogue and that focus all through the week make it actually particular.
I feel that is the half that I am loopy about, the mentality a part of all of it.
Staff chemistry creates these ‘acquired ’em’ moments
Hen: My favourite half is the acquired ’em second. You ready for one thing. You form of knew it might occur. It occurs, your staff executed, and you are like, “Bought ’em!” As a result of that for the opposite staff, that is the dagger within the coronary heart for them. Then you definately feed off that. And my different favourite factor is — and inform me if this occurs with you — when your teammates begin to do it, like, they could come over and whisper, like, “Hey, I feel this, this and that. We might most likely exploit that.” And I am like, “You are proper, we might. Nice concept!” You realize, that is the perfect half.
Wilson: DK [Metcalf] and Tyler [Lockett] do [that]. And DK’s younger. He involves the sideline, within the huddle or no matter it could be, and Tyler’s all the time carried out it. Tyler’s been such an unbelievable expertise. If I am the purpose guard, he is the capturing guard. He is aware of recover from. He is aware of create an area, and it has been wonderful to work with guys like that.
Who’s been certainly one of your favourite teammates — when it comes to this strategy of with the ability to see the sport higher than anyone else?
Hen: I’ve had loads of teammates. After I consider the Olympic staff and even school and past, it’s Diana Taurasi. We form of see the sport the identical. With the 2 of us within the backcourt, you could have two thinkers. You might have two gamers who’re level guards and capturing guards. You might have two gamers who’re form of capable of do each.
We play off one another very well. After which in Seattle, I imply, we’re recent off a championship. So, I might listing them. However I’d say Stewie (Breanna Stewart), Jewell Loyd and Alysha Clark, and it goes past that. However these three, we have now such good chemistry. A lot is unsaid, which is sweet.
Legacy is not all X’s and O’s
Hen: You’ve got been taking part in for 9 seasons. How has the sport shifted for you, each on and off the sector? However then additionally off the sector, what it means to be a Black quarterback these days?
Wilson: After I got here to the league, I simply actually wished to know my place as a result of I am making an attempt to learn to begin a job. I am a third-string quarterback. I’ve acquired to review the stone. It was like: You get to be a named starter your rookie 12 months, and also you go into your second 12 months and also you win the Tremendous Bowl. You go to the third 12 months and get into the Tremendous Bowl, however you do not win. And also you win certainly one of these playoff video games, subsequent factor , you are 4, 5 years in. Then I spotted that I want to speculate and make it possible for I put money into others and their recreation development. I all the time discuss this idea — the whys of soccer. Why are we doing this?
You all the time acquired to know why.
And that is while you get the complete intel of the sport. For me, it was not simply the whys of soccer however I additionally wish to play this recreation for 20-plus years. I began diving into my entire efficiency world and constructing that out and investing in that. So, that means, I might really feel recent. I might really feel nice on daily basis, figuring out that this job is a 365-day job.
In a means, taking part in quarterback right here, you are the CEO of a enterprise, and it is a multibillion-dollar enterprise. It’s a must to perceive that it is an important accountability and an important alternative to impression. So, for me, off the sector, I all the time wished to spend so much of time locally — my work with Seattle Kids’s Hospital and so many issues there. We constructed the [Why Not You] basis to do this. That is positively been wonderful simply to actually make an impression and instill a why-not-you angle within the youngsters.
However with all the things occurring in America proper now with, , social impression. Simply fascinated by all the things occurring with COVID and racially, and all of the social injustices and all the things. I’ve been lucky to have the ability simply to tug issues collectively.
For me, being a quarterback. There weren’t too many African American quarterbacks, particularly starters. And now the sport’s modified lots. Earlier than me, there was just one different Black quarterback to win a Tremendous Bowl. (Former Washington player Doug Williams was the primary African American QB to win a Tremendous Bowl, in 1988.)
Greater than a recreation
Wilson: These occasions are altering, and it is altering for the higher, however we won’t cease there. We acquired to maintain going, and it is one thing that I’ve all the time noticed about you. I do know that you’ve got helped the world in so some ways, from all the things you have carried out with girls’s rights and equality and the way you stood up to your teammates, to your associates, even for folks like me. You stood up for lots of issues. I’ve all the time admired that. Are you able to discuss to me about that?
Hen: I feel it is twofold. I feel, just like you, simply being a lady within the area of sports activities. It is … nearly, in a means, we’re not presupposed to be right here.
The extra we’re right here and the extra we succeed, and the extra folks can see that, then you’re paving the way in which for others. Simply by being wonderful at what you do and taking part in that place the way in which you do, you are paving the way in which. And I really feel the identical means. Simply by being a lady on this nation making an attempt to place skilled sports activities on the map, I am paving the way in which for youthful gamers. Nevertheless it does go a bit bit past as a result of I really feel like as a white participant, and whilst a homosexual girl, I perceive that — particularly as a homosexual girl — when folks have my again that are not homosexual. It simply speaks a lot louder than me standing on the market, , yelling for homosexual rights. That is simply the truth of it.
The phrase ally will get thrown round lots. And this summer time, with the WNBA, to be a white athlete talking out about Black Lives Matter. I knew there was an significance to that. I additionally knew there have been occasions that I wanted simply to pay attention and be taught. However the moments that introduced themselves the place I wanted to be vocal about it, I knew that my function was actually vital as anyone who wasn’t Black.
I’ve simply realized a lot by going by this previous summer time and the impression that we are able to all have as athletes after which the impression that I can have as a feminine athlete. And it is nearly like when you get a style of the change you could presumably make, you simply do not wish to cease. You wish to maintain going. You wish to proceed to pave the way in which and be part of that. That is what legacy is.
I might love to listen to from you. I am curious, while you hear the phrase legacy, like, what do you consider?
Wilson: To begin with, I take into consideration all of the belongings you simply stated. About having an ally. Simply know that you’ve got an ally in me. All the time.
Hen: Thanks. I admire that.
Wilson: I stand for love. It’s kind of wonderful, you and Megan [Rapinoe, Bird’s fiancée].
And being the best level guard of the sport. And being white and standing up for Black lives and minorities as a complete, it has been wonderful to observe. Your impression is actual, and it positively will get observed, and understood. That is vital.
Wilson: I thanks for doing that. Nevertheless it’s a legacy — it means, what have you ever carried out, what are your accolades? And what number of touchdowns you may throw, and what number of assists do you could have? What number of buckets you get, and what number of factors have you ever scored in complete? All these various things. What number of championships have you ever received?
This concept of legacy to me, it is actually who you modify. It is who you modify.
Anytime you stroll right into a room, anytime you stroll into a spot, you permit it higher than while you acquired there. And I feel that that is vital when it comes to legacy. And I feel it is actually vital for each [person] to know that all of us have completely different significances. All of us have significance, although. And there is one thing there you could all the time depart. There’s all the time a spot of impression for you.
I all the time inform my youngsters this, however the actuality is — all of us have a sphere of affect. Whether or not it is anyone who has 20 million followers and anyone has received this many championships or who would not have a lot in any respect and tries to determine what to do subsequent. So, if anyone’s, sadly, laying on their deathbed with most cancers, the truth is that particular person nonetheless has significance. How will we problem and encourage and love and construct up that significance and allow them to know that?
That is why I created the inspiration. I feel that there is all the time a glimpse of impression. And for me, , for my legacy, the place I’m immediately, 9 years in, it is like I am simply getting began. However what number of years have you ever performed once more?
Hen: Oh, do not ask me that. Uh, excessive teenagers. Excessive teenagers.
Wilson: If I can get into the excessive teenagers — I feel for me, if I can depart my legacy — I’d be one of many best ever to play this recreation. That is why I stand up each morning to work laborious. However, hopefully, I can depart a legacy that I gave folks hope that they might surpass any of their desires that they’ve ever had. Hopefully, I depart a glimpse of affection and pleasure.
I all the time stroll into the stadium, and I say, “Man, this child will get to see me play one time in his life. Hopefully, this will likely be one thing that he’ll without end bear in mind.” And so, hopefully, that will likely be a part of my legacy. I take into consideration my youngsters too. I take into consideration my sons [Future Jr. and Win] and my daughter. I take into consideration who they’re, and I pray that they take dangers. I pray they take the identical threat and much more threat than I used to be even capable of take.
We change into profitable and lucky and no matter. You could have funds. Your youngsters might imagine that they do not need to work laborious, or perhaps there’s not a threat to take or, “I am OK.” And I wish to ensure my youngsters know they have to go for it. They acquired to go for it on daily basis. They acquired to carry ardour to no matter they do, take dangers, take challenges, be an overcomer, be a winner, and have that mentality on daily basis.
If I can depart them with that, they’re going to depart others with that, and for me and my spouse, Ciara, we’re blessed to have the ability to [work in] sports activities and music. Two of probably the most entertaining issues on the earth. However to place these issues collectively and collide these issues along with our youngsters and do it on daily basis, hopefully, we are able to impression them.
If I had something on my tombstone, fascinated by it, is that I served. I served. And that is what legacy is about. It is about others.
Wilson: You’ve got carried out this for thus a few years and impacted me and my sister and so many different folks. I am strolling the streets carrying your jersey, carrying No. 10 and all that. However what does legacy appear like to you?
Hen: First, let me say that each for you and Ciara, your entire household, despite the fact that I’m additionally knowledgeable athlete within the metropolis of Seattle, I am a fan. I watch you guys. I watch you play on a regular basis. I am a fan. And since I am locally, I do know the work that you simply guys have carried out, and the impression is already felt. You do have an extended method to go to catch me in years, however that simply means extra years to proceed what you have been doing each on and off the sector. It has been enjoyable to observe and even simply to have this dialog.
On the dialog of legacy, I agree. It is like we get caught up within the factors and the rebounds or the touchdowns and the championships, and form of what that legacy means. However, as I stated, they’re most likely solely asking you that should you’ve carried out some issues proper. When you’ve already received some issues. In order that half’s already taken care of. You realize, I introduced up Diana earlier. She all the time says, like, “it is already written.” Like, I’ve already carried out it.
And it goes additional than girls’s basketball immediately. It is about what I can do. How can I exploit this second the place I am nonetheless taking part in, the place my years and my expertise and my stage of play have collided on this means? The place I’ve this voice, and it is loud, and I wish to ensure I am utilizing it in the proper methods. I feel many youthful gamers take heed to me as a result of I have been taking part in for thus lengthy.
And issues like our new collective bargaining settlement, with how we have come collectively to face for issues that transcend basketball, that is the place I need my legacy to lie. That is the place I wish to be 10 years from now — the place I am retired someplace on a seashore, and I do know that there is anyone who’s simply coming into the league who has this chance, whether or not it is from a cash standpoint or the platform, and I helped that develop once I was there. And also you stated it. You wish to depart locations higher than while you acquired there.
Wilson: That is wonderful. And I have to get this system for prime teenagers, .
Hen: We cannot discuss 20 but. We’ll simply name it excessive teenagers.
Wilson: Sue, I’ve acquired a query for you. And I do know you are artistic. You are a degree guard, and I am a quarterback over right here. So we have got to construct this staff collectively, all proper. We acquired to have a Mount Rushmore of Seattle athletes. So, who do we would like on there?
Hen: No. 1, I am selecting you. That is what I am saying.
Wilson: No. 1, Sue Hen. And I am placing your head proper within the center, too, proper in the course of the entire thing.
Hen: You are my No. 1. So there, we stated it. Um, all proper, cool. So, we’re on it. After which after that, it does get robust. I feel I’ll need to go along with “The Glove” Gary Payton.
Wilson: An excellent one, for certain.
Hen: Can we carry the Sonics again? That’d be good.
Wilson: Gotta put Glove on there. And, after all, we gotta put the Swingman, Ken Griffey Jr., in there.
Hen: In fact. I imply, pay attention, we’re right here proper now. These have been my 4 from the beginning.
Wilson: All proper. We’re constructing. All proper, so we’re good. We acquired our Mount Rushmore.
Hen: Set. It is set.
Wilson: We acquired to do that extra usually. I really like this dialog. I really like your data and what you carry. I wish to thanks from Ciara and me and from my daughter, Sienna, and my household. My entire household, together with my sister, Anna, we love you and all of the belongings you’ve been capable of do. Not only for Seattle however for ladies around the globe and for males too.
Hen: Thanks for sharing that. The sensation is mutual. And one fast, little story. You have been an enormous motivation this previous summer time, within the [WNBA] bubble. After we have been in our personal little bubble, we have been at IMG [Academy in Bradenton, Florida], as everyone is aware of, and within the ready room, they’ve your jersey hanging up.
Wilson: Oh yeah, that is true.
Hen: Actually each exercise we have been doing, no matter it was, there you have been.
Wilson: I am all the time there with you.
Hen: I feel Seattle’s fairly fortunate.