WNBA legend Sue Bird retires after season: ‘I’m going to miss it’

WNBA legend Sue Bird, the league’s all-time assistant leader, announced on Thursday that she would retire at the end of the 2022 season.

“I’m determined this will be my last year,” Bird, 41, posted on social media. “I’ve loved every single minute, and still have, so this is going to be my last year playing like this little girl played for the first time.”

The 12-time All-Star and eight-time All-WNBA Selection had previously stated that she intended to retire after the 2021 campaign, but this past season she signed a one-year contract with the Seattle Storm, where she spent her entire 21 years. WNBA career. Although she had hinted that this might be her last season, so far she has not done anything in public.

“You only know when you know,” Bird told reporters in Connecticut after Thursday’s announcement, adding that Storm’s East Coast trip, which includes her final game in her home state of New York on Sunday, was encouraging at the time of her announcement.

“Of course, I’m sad,” Bird said. “It’s a little sad, I know I’m going to miss it. But I have to say that I have no regrets. I wonder about my career, about the people I met, about what we all accomplished. . “

As a WNBA veteran announcing her retirement after the 2022 season, she joins Sylvia Fowles, the league’s all-time rebounding leader, considered one of the greatest players of all time.

Bird’s well-groomed career spanning two decades and at all levels draws her to the conversation of one of the greatest basketball players of all time and champion. The former No. 1 draft pick in 2002 won four WNBA titles with Storm in 2004, 2010, 2018 and 2020, making her the only WNBA player to win the title in three decades. She was selected in every milestone team of the WNBA, including the most recent W25 in 2021.

“I’m very proud to have played my entire career in Seattle,” Bird said. “I’ve enjoyed all my time here. I think I’ve been very connected to the team, to the city, to the fanbase, to the people who have come through this, and that’s really what I think. It’s really about the people. So I’m really lucky to have played with some of the best organizations in the world for a first-class organization and I won’t trade it for anything. “

Bird credited her success on the international stage in Tokyo last year, when she helped USA basketball win its ninth Olympic gold medal and seventh consecutive gold medal. Along with close friend and former UConn teammate Diana Torasi, the pair became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals.

Before deciding to play for coach Geno Oriemma in Sioux, Yukon, New York, she starred at Christ the King High School in Queens, where she guided Husky to national championships in 2000 and 2002, the event’s second and third championships. She was named National Player of the Year in 2002, and was part of the top five in the history of women’s college basketball.

Bird’s extensive trophy case also includes four FIBA ​​World Championship gold medals, including Team USS, and five Euroleague titles, including Spartak Moscow and UMMC Ekaterinburg.

A bird that misses the WNBA season in the Covid-19 protocol and, more recently, a non-COVID-19 illness, is averaging 7.8 points at 33.8% shooting (low in both careers), but her 6.6 assists per game equals another. Most in her career.

Bird said, “I think I’ve played as long as I’ve played at a higher level physically and mentally, and it’s gotten even harder.”

Still, her longevity – credited to her work with performance trainer Susan Borchard – is unmatched, as the 19 seasons she has played in the league (losing 2013 and 2019 due to injury) are more than any other player. She is the only WNBA player to appear in at least 500 games, starting in all 559 tournaments of her career.

“I hope other players can see this kind of career, see its length, see its success, and know that they can do it,” Bird said. “It’s not easy, but it’s possible. There are ways you can play a lot, a lot of the time. And hopefully, I’m one of the players who helped start this storyline in women’s basketball.”

The 5-foot-9-point guard recorded the 3,000th assist of her career on July 9, 2021, and entered 3,114 Dimes – 514 more than any other player – in Friday’s storm match against the Sun, averaging at least five assists in 15 of her 19 seasons and at least six. Game five times. She is a 39.2% career shooter out of 3, willing to hit big shots when her team needs to, and she ranks second in career 3s (965), fourth in steals (700) and seventh in scoring (6,639).