With fans chanting "thank you, Sue!" out professional basketball great Sue Bird was visibly emotional as she played her last WNBA game last week. Bird played 19 seasons in the WNBA, all with the Storm, and she retires as the most accomplished point guard in league history. Bird also made history off the court, officially coming out in 2017 and acknowledging her relationship with soccer star Megan Rapinoe.
Bird returned for one final season after contemplating retirement last year. Seattle fans had chanted "one more year!" as she left the court following last year. This year, an emotional Bird admitted leaving the game was not easy, and she returned to the court to warm cheers from the fans.
"I didn't really want to leave the court," Bird was quoted by ESPN following a disappointing loss semifinal playoff loss to the Las Vegas Aces last Tuesday, which eliminated the Storm from the playoffs. "It felt like that's where everybody was going, so I just followed at first. But I also wanted to kind of have one last moment to say thank you, to soak it all in, because in some ways it is a happy thing."
"I think initially I felt sad about the season and the game," Bird said of her final game and the emotional sendoff from the fans. "I then think, as the emotions started to come to the surface, that's also what I know deep down in that, that was my last game. So it was a combination of those two things, but overall it just feels kind of weird."
Bird played point guard and ran the offense, bringing the ball up the court, initiating plays, and distributing the ball to other players to score. The position is akin to the quarterback in football. She has been often been compared to great point guards from the NBA like John Stockton, Isiah Thomas, and Magic Johnson. Her accomplishments were noted by multiple NBA greats.
"I also want to acknowledge two women who have just retired from the WNBA," NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley said in his speech presenting WNBA Hall of Fame inductee Lyndsay Whalen. "The great Sue Bird and the great Synthia Fowles. "Thank you. And y'all gonna be up here soon."
Current Golden State Warrior player Steph Curry tweeted his sentiments on Bird's accomplishments and career, telling her to "take a bow."
During her career, Bird earned four WNBA Championships (2004, 2010, 2018, and 2020). She is the all-time WNBA assist leader (an assist is credited to a player who makes a pass to another player that directly results in points scored). She is the leader in starts as well with 549 in her 19-year career, the only WNBA player to have appeared in at least 500 games. Even more impressive is that she started every game she played, never coming off the bench. She also won five Olympic gold medals as a member of the U.S. National Team. Bird also was a two-time NCAA Champion at UConn.