After years of speculation as to when she might finally hang it up, Seattle Storm point guard Sue Bird announced on social media on Thursday that the 2022 season will be her last in the WNBA.
Bird, who is 41, is in her 21st season and has been one of women’s basketball’s pioneering players dating all the way back to her days at the University of Connecticut in the late 1990s. In a post on Twitter and Instagram, Bird wrote “I have loved every single minute, and still do, so gonna play my last year, just like this little girl played her first.”
I’ve decided this will be my final year. I have loved every single minute, and still do, so gonna play my last year, just like this little girl played her first ☺️ #TheFinalYear @seattlestorm pic.twitter.com/Uo2YqCCKUD
— Sue Bird (@S10Bird) June 16, 2022
Few have achieved as much in a basketball career as Bird. She is a two-time NCAA champion, a four-time WNBA champion, and has five Olympic gold medals, as she along with her close friend Diana Taurasi set the record for most golds by one basketball player in the history of the Olympic Games.
Throughout her time in basketball, Bird has played with Hall of Famers that span the history of the women’s game, from Taurasi, Ashja Jones and Swin Cash at UConn to Lauren Jackson, Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart in Seattle. It’s no exaggeration to say Bird played next to just about every great Team USA women’s basketball great over the past two decades.
Bird will retire No. 1 in WNBA history in career games and minutes played, No. 1 in total assists, top 10 in points scored, and top five in total steals.
In recent years, as Bird has neared the end of her illustrious career and questions about her career multiplied, Bird has often made a point of noting that her time as a high-schooler coincided with the creation of the WNBA. As a young athlete, Bird didn’t really know what her future could be in women’s basketball. As she got older and gained notoriety out of Syosset, New York, an hour or two outside of Manhattan, Bird began to set her sights on a professional career. Once she got to the W, she realized the possibilities of the burgeoning lead to the absolute fullest.
Off the court, Bird has been a key part of the WNBA players’ union, an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ+ community alongside her girlfriend Megan Rapinoe, and a key voice in the league’s push for progressive leadership in the U.S. government and beyond. When she entered the WNBA, it was unclear whether the league would survive and what it would mean to be a professional women’s basketball player in the U.S. And while players continue to push for higher salaries, equitable treatment in their workplace, and a greater voice in this country’s sports ecosystem, Bird helped drive the league to the impressive status it has today by using her platform to amplify the work of her colleagues — and take on causes of her own.
It’s no surprise, then, that Bird would strike a nostalgic, joyful tone as she finishes that prolific career. This final year will be about having fun, relishing the small, competitive moments that she has seemingly always cherished. What’s left for her to achieve on the court? Nothing.