WNBA legend Sue Bird is retiring after this season


WNBA legend Sue Bird is retiring after this season

WNBA legend and league all-time assists leader Sue Bird announced Thursday that she will be retiring at the end of the 2022 season.

“I’ve decided this will be my last year,” Bird, 41, posted on social media. “I loved every minute of it and I still do, so I’m going to play my final year just like this little girl played her first.”

The 12-time All-Star and eight-time All-WNBA pick had previously said she was considering retiring after the 2021 campaign, but she signed a one-year contract with the Seattle Storm, where she will live her entire 21-year career WNBA career. this off-season. Despite hinting that this could be her last season, she hasn’t publicly committed to anything yet.

She joins Sylvia Fowles, the league’s all-time rebound leader and also considered one of the all-time greats, as WNBA luminaries to announce her retirement after the 2022 season.

Bird’s successful career spanning two decades and at every level catapults her into the conversation for one of basketball’s greatest players and champions of all time. The former 2002 No. 1 overall won four WNBA titles with the Storm in 2004, 2010, 2018 and 2020, becoming the only WNBA player to win titles in three decades. She has also been selected to each of the WNBA’s milestone teams, most recently including W25 in 2021.

Bird contributed to her storied success on the international stage in Tokyo last year when she helped USA Basketball take home its ninth Olympic gold medal and seventh straight. Along with close friend and former UConn teammate Diana Taurasi, the pair became the first female basketball player to win five Olympic gold medals.

The Syosset native, New York played at Christ the King High School in Queens before deciding to play for coach Geno Auriemma at UConn, where she took the Huskies to national championships in 2000 and 2002, the program’s second and third championships titles. She was named the 2002 National Player of the Year while part of what is arguably the greatest starting five in women’s college basketball history.

Bird’s extensive trophy cabinet also includes four FIBA ​​World Championship gold medals with Team USA and five EuroLeague titles with Spartak Moscow and UMMC Ekaterinburg.

Bird, who has missed time this WNBA season on COVID-19 protocols and most recently with a non-COVID-19 illness, is averaging 7.8 points on 33.8% shooting (both career lows), but her 6th .6 assists per game ties for second place. most in their careers.

Her longevity – which she credits to her work with performance coach Susan Borchardt – is unmatched, as her 19 seasons in the league (she missed through injury in 2013 and 2019) is more than any other player. She is the only WNBA player to have appeared in at least 500 games and started in all 559 career competitions.

The 5-9 point guard recorded her 3,000th career assist on July 9, 2021, and has 3,114 dimes — 514 more than any other player — going into Friday’s game of the Storm against the Sun, averaging at least five assists per Game in 15 matches of their 19 seasons and at least six five times. She is a career 39.2 percent shooter of 3 with a penchant for big shots when her team needs it, and also finishes second in career 3s (965), fourth in steals (700), and seventh in scoring ( 6,639).

While initially relatively soft-spoken, Bird has increasingly opened up about her personal life, making her a cultural icon in the process. She came out as gay and revealed her relationship with (now fiancee) soccer star Megan Rapinoe, with whom she co-hosted ESPYS in 2020 with Seattle star Russell Wilson. Off the court, she served as vice president of the WNBA Players’ Association and helped negotiate the landmark 2020 league and player collective bargaining agreement.

Bird’s announcement coincides with the Storm’s penultimate road trip of the regular season in Connecticut, where she spent her college career, and her final game in New York, where her family is from.

“As I said, by the time the season was over, I knew pretty much exactly, and then when I saw the schedule and then started packing a little bit for this trip, I was like, ‘Oh, this is going to be my last time in New York to play. Last time I played in front of my family and friends.” And that’s why the timing is what it is,” Bird said in a video posted by The Storm to social media.

“I just had a strong feeling to announce my retirement and to say it was my final year so I can share that with my family and my friends, all the people in New York who saw me growing up, so they’re coming and see me play the last time in my home state. So I’m looking forward to it. It’s also bittersweet.”

The 9-5 Storm, who have won two of the last four WNBA titles, are ranked No. 4 in the WNBA standings as they seek to send Bird to the top with one final title.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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