Bird Retires, Giving Generation of Women’s Basketball Players Huge Load of Legacy

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Women’s basketball on a global level will miss her: Suzanne ‘Sue’ Bird gave up competitive playing.

Rookies Sue Bird faced in her final seasons were just starting to celebrate their first birthdays when she set off her professional career. And throughout those 21 years, Bird has been nothing less than the league’s best player and everything it needed. When Bird was chosen on a draft by the Seattle Storm, the WNBA had been around for five seasons. The franchise’s history shows that they competed for only two seasons.

In terms of both longevity and achievement, Bird’s career is amazing. She has held the status of the oldest WNBA player since 2017. When Bird was in high school, the idea of someone playing in the NBA for two decades was unheard of. She was the first to crack a two-decade milestone. Her generation was the first to enter college with knowledge of the existence of the WNBA and playing collegiate basketball with the chance of getting selected in the draft and playing a full pro career.

The Syosset, New York-native point guard, who stands 1.75m tall, has formally announced her retirement following the Storm’s Game 4 WNBA playoff loss to the top-seeded Las Vegas Aces on Tuesday, which was totally in line with odds of the best betting sites. It marks the end of a legendary career that included both basketball records and unforgettable moments in popular culture. Her achievements were game-changing events that paved the way for future improvements. As much as she gave, she’ll be missed just as much.

UConn: Powerhouse on Rise with Arrival of Bird

Connecticut’s Storrs Huskies had won just one championship, in 1995, when Bird moved there. She tripled it by the time she departed. With 11 national championship trophies under its belt almost 15 years later, UConn is the most successful title-winning program in NCAA history. The standard is so high that each season that doesn’t end with a trophy is seen as a failure.

Bird received the Naismith Player of the Year award, the Wade Trophy, the Associated Press National Player of the Year, the USBWA National Player of the Year, and her third Nancy Lieberman award in the 2002 championship season. She was the most deserved of the then UConn’s perfect 39-0 record.

Bird now maintains the UConn record for assists, 3-point field-goal percentage, and free-throw % for a single season. In terms of 3-point shooting and free-throw shooting, she has career program records.

Sue Bird, 21-Year Seattle Storm Icon

One of the elite athletes in any sport who can claim to have spent their entire career in one place is the point guard. She had opportunities to go, especially in recent years when she signed one-year contracts and free agency increased and more money was available. Instead, she made use of those one-year contracts to help the Storm assemble a team around her and provide her with the remaining salary cap money. It’s unlikely that the league will ever again witness that kind of bond. She played for the veteran base salary minimum of $72,141 in her final WNBA season.

There are two distinct periods in her career. With the help of center Lauren Jackson and Bird, the Storm won their first two WNBA titles in 2004 and 2010. They brought in Jewell Loyd, a star at Notre Dame, in 2015. They also won the ‘lottery’ in 2016 to add Breanna Stewart. Bird has emphasized numerous times over the past three years how this action saved her career.

The Storm triumphed in 2018, but a repeat performance wasn’t anticipated after Stewart, the MVP, tore her Achilles abroad and Bird endured another knee operation. They came back to win it once more in the 2020 bubble, which was considered one of the hardest championships to win due to the circumstances surrounding the early COVID-19 pandemic.

Given that her franchise records are too extensive to recount, the Storm won’t wait long before retiring Bird’s jersey No. 10: most games (580), most minutes per game in a season (35.5), most points (6,803), most field goals (2,479). Most 3-pointers in a career (1,001), season (72), and game (7). Most assists in a career (3,234), season (221, in ’03 and ’18), and assists per game in a career (5.6).

Birds’ Overseas Career

Bird was dominant on the international stage too. She played all year long early in her career, joining Dynamo Moscow in Russia in 2004–05, where she went on to win the Russian championship and the Euroleague trophy the following year.

Bird joined Lauren Jackson and Diana Taurasi on Spartak Moscow Region in 2006–07, and the team went on to win the Russian and Euroleague championships. With UMMC Ekaterinberg team, also in Russia, Bird won three straight national championships while representing them from 2011 to 2014. Bird’s career has covered a full decade of international travel. Even elite players like Bird, Taurasi, Brittney Griner, and many others have to relocate abroad in order to make a comfortable living. Aged into their 40s, Bird and Taurasi have ceased such a practice. But a minimum salary of $1 million every season abroad, as in Griner’s case, is difficult to refuse. The 2020 collective bargaining agreement, which Bird worked to pass as vice president of the WNBA Players Association, gives today’s elite players in the league better alternatives thanks to their higher pay.

Beyond the record five Olympic gold medals she earned, she had a significant impact on USA basketball national team. A new team training schedule that began in 2019 in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was started by Bird. It hadn’t happened before, in large part because a core group of players had more time to train together and received compensation for it. Additionally, it increased the team’s visibility, which raised the profile of women’s basketball as a whole and the WNBA players’ performances.

Cultural Impact of Sue Bird

When Bird, who was then in her 15th pro season, came out as gay, it made headlines even in 2017. The lack of a public declaration didn’t make her feel as though she hadn’t lived her life to the fullest because it wasn’t a secret to her friends and family, she claimed at the time. She declared her relationship with Megan Rapinoe, a star for the Seattle NWSL squad and member of the United States women’s soccer national team, in the same profile.

During the WNBA bubble season, she served as one of the faces of the social justice movement. Bird is outspoken about social, racial, and LGBTQ+ concerns. In 2020, she spoke extensively about freezing her eggs, a practice that is still battling stigma.

As the league’s pop culture currency has recovered from that bubble season, Bird has profited. The league needs her Carmax advertisements with two-time WNBA champion Candace Parker and NBA star Stephen Curry. She qualifies as a fashionista thanks to her tunnel suits. She appears on well-known basketball podcasts, which puts her firmly in the celebrity zone. For WNBA players, that sign has not frequently appeared.

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