Decatur basketball legend Marcus Tibbs finds home with Storm

“I’ve been blessed to be able to be in this situation. Basketball has taken me a long way.”

To those who are now just becoming WNBA and Seattle Storm fans, Decatur High School alum Marcus Tibbs might fly under their radar.

Tibbs is a player development coach for the Storm and has been with the organization since 2013 in various roles. What started as a way to stay in shape and work on his craft in college turned out to be a monumental move for him after his playing career came to a close.

“I was so locked in to playing at that time. I was not thinking about anything coaching wise,” Tibbs said.

Tibbs was a part of some the best basketball teams Decatur has ever had. During his time in the blue and gold, Decatur made three consecutive state tournament appearances and had one of its most dominant stretches on the basketball court since the school opened back in 1971.

Tibbs struggled in the classroom and wasn’t able to graduate in the four years of high school, and was granted an extra year of eligibility to allow him to graduate. That extra year of high school resulted in a Division 1 scholarship falling through along with the coach at Eastern Washington University departing.

Tibbs then went the junior college route and attended Bellevue College. He unfortunately had to step away from the sport he loved to focus on himself.

“I can’t be mad about any of it. When I was in and out of school and taking time off to grow and learn more about myself, I wouldn’t change any of it,” Tibbs said.

He stepped away from playing basketball for two years and eventually came back to the sport, playing at Bellevue College. Tibbs spent his 2009 season with the Bulldogs before returning in 2012. Tibbs then went on to play at the University of Victoria to finish his college career.

Now, after being with the Storm for over 10 years, that once 19-year-old kid who couldn’t play, wouldn’t believe where the sport got him today.

“I’ve been blessed to be able to be in this situation. Basketball has taken me a long way,” he said.

Tibbs got connected to the Seattle Storm back in 2012 before he left for Canada through an unlikely source, athletic trainer Tom Spencer. Tibbs was asked if he wanted to get involved with the Storm and Tibbs didn’t have to think twice: “I’m a gym rat, so I’ll do it.”

Throughout his time working with the Storm, he has seen legends come in and out of the practice facility doors. But the one “welcome to the league” moment happened when he was a practice player who would be the Storm’s practice opponents.

“Tanisha Wright and Sue Bird, I was so nervous (around them). I didn’t speak for a while, then Sue walked up to me and said ‘You know you can talk right?’ I responded with a ‘mmhmm’ and still didn’t talk,” Tibbs said.

While practicing, Tibbs played against Noelle Quinn, who now coaches the Storm.

Since getting involved with the Storm, Tibbs has seen five different head coaches come though the doors. With every one of them, he tries to add their knowledge to his own coaching style: “Every head coach that has come through here, I have tried to pick up something from them. A motto for me is if I ever think I know it all, I am done. It can be in life, in basketball with my kids. That is what I’m on.”

Tibbs has seen a lot in the WNBA since he has started being involved, especially this summer, with the addition of arguably the most popular rookie class of all time in the league. Seeing record crowds and record ratings and just overall attention to the sport is a special feeling for Tibbs.

“To see the motion of the league, where it is going and growing the game. Then still seeing the youth out there and they are feeding off of it. The game is just growing,” Tibbs said. “I’m glad that people are starting to recognize it more. The game is there, they are pretty good.”

Tibbs has seen the Storm play in front of sellout crowds in Key Arena and Climate Pledge as a Storm coach. The home fans are something special for Tibbs.

“Last year they were great. We didn’t have the greatest year but they were still so involved. It’s so nice to see that more and more are coming in each and every day,” he said.

As of today, Tibbs is an assistant coach at Bellevue and now has players of his own practicing against Seattle.

“The opportunity that I had, I try and feed that back to everybody else. You get to learn the game literally from pros. They will give you pointers if you ask for it… All the people that I bring here are down to learn,” Tibbs said.

Marcus Tibbs has been working with the Storm for over a decade and has been a part of two championship teams. Ben Ray / The Mirror

Marcus Tibbs has been working with the Storm for over a decade and has been a part of two championship teams. Ben Ray / The Mirror