WNBA legend Sue Bird announces retirement

Sue Bird. Bettina Hansen/AP photo.

Longtime Seattle Storm point guard and WNBA legend Sue Bird announced this morning that she will retire at the end of the 2022 season.

“I’ve decided this will be my final year,” she posted on social media. “I have loved every minute, and still do, so gonna play my last year, just like this little girl played her first.”

Bird, 41, has been with the Storm since being drafted No. 1 in 2002, and is the league’s all-time assists leader – at 3,114 today – over her 19 seasons playing. She is a four-time WNBA champion, a 12-time All-Star, and eight-time all-WNBA selection, and helped the USA win four Olympic gold medals over the course of her career. Bird also won four FIBA World Championship golds with the U.S. and five Euroleague titles in Russia.

“Gonna miss ya, Sue Bird, when you leave the Seattle Storm court as a player for the last time, but in the meantime, gotta love every minute you’ve got left, knowing there’s so much more you’ll do off the court when that time comes,” Storm co-owner Ginny Gilder tweeted on social media. “Love forever!”

Bird, a UConn standout and two-time NCAA champion, said she had considered retiring after last season, but was inspired to return when fans chanted “one more year” after Seattle’s final game. She signed a one-year contract and said this “could be” her last season, but did not make it official until today.

In a press release, the Storm said Bird’s importance to the franchise “cannot be overstated.” In games she has played for Seattle, she has scored or assisted on 35.4 percent of all baskets.

Bird said attention to fitness and nutrition has kept her going. She is the only player in league history to appear in more than 500 games, and has started all 559 in which she has appeared.

Her announcement comes as the Storm readies to leave for a road trip that takes them to Connecticut and New York. Bird said the timing was purposeful.

“As the season has gone, like I said, I pretty much knew, and then once I saw the schedule, and then once I started packing for this trip a little bit, I was like, ‘Oh, this is gonna be my last time playing in New York. My last time playing in front of my family and friends.’ And so that’s why the timing of this is what it is,” Bird said in a video posted by the team on social media.

“I just really felt strongly about announcing my retirement, saying it was my last year so I can share that with my family and my friends, all the people in New York who have watched me growing up so they can come and see me play for the last time in my home state. So I’m excited about that. It’s also bittersweet.”

Seattle, currently 9-5, plays the Sun Friday and the Liberty Sunday.