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Thank you, #10

(photo courtesy of Steph Chambers)

Sept. 6, 2022 – Game 4 of the Women’s National Basketball Association semifinals where the Las Vegas Aces play the Seattle Storm.

Pressure is up and the tension is high with seconds left as Sue Bird goes coast to coast and scores a lay up to cut the Seattle Storm’s deficit to four. However, it was not enough as the Las Vegas Aces eliminated the Seattle Storm and ended Sue Bird’s 21 year WNBA career. When someone talks about the rise of the WNBA, it is almost certain that Sue Bird’s name is mentioned.

With her jersey not retired and up in the rafters of Climate Pledge Arena together with the 4 championship banners. In honor of Bird’s jersey retirement, let us take a look at her 21 year professional career and her impact off the court.

Bird went to the University of Connecticut for college finishing with a 114-4 college record and an undefeated final season. Coming off a losing season, the Seattle Storm drafted her with the first overall pick in the 2002 WNBA draft which changed the course of the franchise as she led the Storm to four championships in 2004, 2010, 2018 and 2020. Seattle is one one of three teams who have the most championships in the league. Karen Bryant, former CEO of the Seattle Storm between 2008 to 2014, said “You can’t talk about the success of the Storm and not start with No. 10.” Bird is also the only WNBA player to win a title in three different decades. Bird immediately became an all star starter and was selected to the 2002-2003 All WNBA team as a rookie. Her all star appearances did not stop there as she ended her career with a total of 13 all star appearances earning the title of most all star appearances. To top it all, Bird was also selected to a total of eight All WNBA teams. In 2017, Bird became the WNBA all time leader in assists with a career total of 2,600 assists. In 2018, Bird became the Storm’s all time leading sorcerer after passing Lauren Jackson’s 6,007 points. Bird ended her career ranking seventh all time in points scored, second in 3 point shots made, first in assists and third in steals for her regular season stats.

(photo courtesy of CNN)

Outside of the WNBA, Bird is a 5x EuroLeague champion and 5x Russian National League Champion. She played for the US women’s national team, helping them win four World Championships in 2002, 2010, 2014 and 2018. She also helped the US win four consecutive gold medals in the Olympics in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016.

(photo courtesy of Popsugar)

Off the court, Bird continues to break barriers. Bird publicly came out as gay in 2017 and announced her engagement with superstar soccer player Megan Rapinoe. In 2020, Bird and Rapinoe became the first gay couple to host the ESPYS where they wore Black Lives Matter shirts. Bird has been very vocal about topics such as LGBTQIA+ rights, the need for pay equality between the NBA and WNBA, abortion rights and racial equality to name a few. Bird is also a co-founder of a media and commerce company named TOGETHXR. The website reads “With a focus on rich storytelling, TOGETHXR is an unapologetic platform where representation and equality is the norm. A place where culture, activism, lifestyle, and sports converge. We shatter the often narrow depictions of women in the media with content featuring a diverse and inclusive community of game changers, culture shapers, thought leaders, and barrier breakers.”

Not only has Bird been an inspiration on the court with her hard work and passion for the sport, she also continues to be an inspiration off the court by using her voice and helping others voices be heard. And because of that, we thank you, #10.

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