Marine Johannès sparks Liberty rally with ‘Sue Bird pass’

Marine Johannès led the Liberty with seven assists in their playoff-opening win. (Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

Marine Johannès didn’t need to keep her eyes on the prize Wednesday night to help the New York Liberty to a 1-0 series lead over the defending champion Chicago Sky.

With the Liberty trailing by six with less than four minutes to go, Johannès threw a no-look pass to Natasha Howard that has drawn comparisons to Seattle Storm legend Sue Bird.

Johannès dribbled toward the Sky bench outside the 3-point line, then whipped an over-the-head pass to a streaking Natasha Howard, who nailed the layup. From there, the Liberty went on a 13-0 run to close the game and take the 98-91 victory.

For Howard, it was the type of pass that she was prepared for but maybe not expecting.

“I was just being ready at all times. I didn’t know if she was going to pass it or not, but I was just ready. It kind of reminds me of a Sue Bird pass,” said Howard, who played with Bird in Seattle from 2019-20. “So it brought back flashbacks a little bit.”

Howard wasn’t the only one to call out the pass, with the Los Angeles Sparks’ Lexie Brown tweeting: “I remember when Sue Bird did this to us my rookie year…does not feel good.”