By: Lucy Panicacci
Following the loss of her Seattle Storm team to the Las Vegas Aces on Sept. 6, women’s basketball player Suzanne (Sue) Bird announced her retirement. At the age of 41, the loss brought her 20-year-long career to an end. In an ESPN interview after her final game, Bird revealed, “Obviously, [I am] so thankful for 20 years here. I’m going to miss it so much. I’m not going anywhere. But I’m going to miss it.”
Since the beginning of her athletic career, Bird showed great promise, entering the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) as the top overall pick of the 2002 draft. The team that drafted her, The Seattle Storm, remained her team for the entirety of her career —19 seasons to be exact. According to her former teammate Adia Barnes, head coach of the University of Arizona Wildcats women’s basketball team, Bird was remarkable to play with, even in her early years. Barnes revealed, “She was just a true point guard, and I think what separated Sue is, she’s a connector, so you wanted to play with her.”
As a masterful guard, Bird naturally built up the confidence of her team. A pass from Bird meant she trusted your ability, said her teammate Crystal Langhorne: “Even when I was working on my 3s and I wasn’t as confident, if I knew Sue kicked it back to me, I was like: “Oh, yeah, shoot it. She’s giving it to you for a reason.”
Throughout her career, she accumulated an impressive resume. Overall, Bird won four WNBA championships, making her the only player to win titles in three different decades (2000s, 2010s, and 2020s). In 2004, she secured her first Olympic gold medal for the United States, and went on to win four more consecutive gold medals. She currently holds the league record in most assists (3,234) and career games played (630). Additionally, Bird is number one in career starts with 549 games started.
Off the court, Bird also found success. Along with her fiancé Megan Rapinoe, she formed the “Love Is” campaign, a clothing brand aimed to raise awareness about LGBTQ issues.
Although she will undoubtedly miss basketball, Bird looks forward to her retired life. After playing since the age of six, Bird conveyed that the end of her sports-focused life means she will finally have more leisure time to sleep in and go on relaxed vacations.
This 12-time WNBA All-Star left a major impression on basketball history. She will be regarded as one of the greatest guards for decades to come. Sport journalist Howard Bryant asserted, “She’s going to be one of those Mt. Rushmore, Mt. Everest players who you look to whenever you think about the greatness of the players.”
(Sources: NY Times, NPR, CNN, SI, CBS)
Categories: National Sports
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