Sue Bird is making it official. Though she has said all signs point toward this season being her last, until Thursday she had yet to come out and say it to be true. Then the hashtag came: #TheFinalYear.
Bird announced on Twitter she is playing out the final months of her career after 21 seasons, all with the Seattle Storm. The team also issued a release with the news.
“I’ve decided this will be my final year,” she wrote. “I have loved every single minute, and still do, so gonna play my last year, just like this little girl played her first.”
The two photos show her being interviews by ESPN’s Holly Rowe after last year’s playoff game when the Seattle crowd poured down “one more year” chants amid a conversation with friend and Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi. The second is of her as a child playing basketball.
Bird, 41, said she first really thought of retiring after last season, but the “one more year” chants swayed her to come back. She made the announcement in January and took a significant pay cut from the WNBA maximum to stay with the Storm and build out a quality team. Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd re-signed back in Seattle during free agency.
Sylvia Fowles and Briann January, who signed with the Storm in free agency, have also announced this will be their final years. Candace Parker, 36, said ahead of the season she is also mulling retirement. Bird’s final seasons will be shown in a documentary.
Bird’s legendary career
Bird spent her entire career with the Storm and is the only WNBA or NBA player to win a championship in each of three decades. She helped Seattle to the top in 2004, ’10 ,’18 and ’20.
The star passer continues to build on her WNBA assists record that is currently at 3,114 as of Thursday afternoon. That’s 514 more than Ticha Penicheiro (2,600) in second. Two more players join her in the top-five: Courtney Vandersloot (2,272) and Taurasi (2,099).
She is the only player to play at least 500 games (559, all of which she started) and ranks second in 3-pointers made (965), fourth in steals (700) and seventh in points (6,639).
She has been a part of all but five of the league’s 26 seasons after Seattle drafted her No. 1 out of UConn in 2002. According to the team, she has scored or assisted on 27.5% of every basket scored in Storm franchise history. That includes the four seasons (2000, 2001, 2013 and 2019) in which she did not play. If including only games she played in, the mark jumps to 35.4%, per the team.
The Storm (9-5) are in Connecticut to play the Sun (Friday, 7 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network). It’s where she became a two-time NCAA champion with the Huskies and earned National Player of the Year her senior year.
As a point guard with Team USA, she’s won five consecutive gold medals — a record for a player — as well as four World Cup golds and a bronze. The 10 medals are the most of any basketball player, men’s or women’s, around the globe and she’s one of 11 players ever to win Olympic gold, World Cup gold, a WNBA title and a NCAA title. She’s also won EuroLeague titles when she played in Russia.
What’s next for Sue Bird?
Bird launched TOGETHXR with Alex Morgan, Chloe Kim and Simone Manuel in March 2021 to focus attention on women’s sports and media. The company covers women’s sports in an effort to change the statistic that around 4% of all sports coverage goes toward women’s sports.
She could also get into broadcasting herself after the success of her “Manningcast” work at the 2022 women’s Final Four. She and Diana Taurasi hosted an alternative broadcast that proved to be a hit with clips of their antics floating around social media.
A life in social justice initiatives and work could also be on the table. Bird, a member of the WNBA Players Association executive board, has been a leader in the social justice initiatives both through the league and outside of it. She helped Raphael Warnock get elected to the Senate in Georgia in 2020.
Most immediately, Bird and two-time soccer World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe are planning a wedding. The two entered their engagement in October 2020 and Bird said recently it was hard to plan a wedding around the soccer schedule.