WNBA legend and all-time league leader Sue Bird announced Thursday that she will retire at the end of the 2022 season.
“I decided this would be my last year,” Bird, 41, said on social media. “I loved every minute, and I still do, so I’m going to play my senior year, just like this little girl played her first.”
The 12-time All-Star and eight-time All-WNBA selection previously said she was considering retirement after the 2021 campaign, but signed a one-year deal with the Seattle Storm, where she has spent her entire career. 21-year career in the WNBA this offseason. Although she indicated that this could be her last season, she hasn’t publicly committed to anything so far.
She joins Sylvia Fowles, the league’s all-time rebounding leader who is also considered one of the all-time greats, as WNBA luminaries to announce their retirement after the 2022 season.
Bird’s decorated career spanning two decades and at every level catapults him into the conversation for one of the greatest basketball players and champions of all time. The former No. 1 overall in 2002 won four WNBA titles with the Storm in 2004, 2010, 2018, 2020, making her the only WNBA player to win titles across three decades. She has also been selected to every one of the WNBA’s marquee teams, including most recently W25 in 2021.
Bird added to her storied success on the international stage last year in Tokyo, when she helped USA Basketball win its ninth Olympic gold medal and seventh in a row. Along with close friend and former UConn teammate Diana Taurasi, the pair became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals.
The Syosset, New York native played at Christ the King High School in Queens before choosing to play for coach Geno Auriemma at UConn, where she guided the Huskies to national titles in 2000 and 2002, the second and third program championships. She was named National Player of the Year in 2002 when she was arguably among the top five starters in women’s college basketball history.
Bird’s extensive trophy showcase also includes four FIBA World Championship gold medals with Team USA and five EuroLeague titles with Spartak Moscow and UMMC Yekaterinburg.
Bird, who has missed time this WNBA season in COVID-19 protocols and more recently with non-COVID-19 illness, is averaging 7.8 points on 33.8% shooting (both career lows) but his 6.6 assists per game are tied for second-most in his career.
Her longevity – which she attributes to her work with performance coach Susan Borchardt – is unmatched, as her 19 seasons playing in the league (she missed 2013 and 2019 due to injury) are more than any other. player. She is the only WNBA player to appear in at least 500 games, starting in all 559 career contests.
The 5-9 playmaker recorded her 3,000th career assist on July 9, 2021 and has 3,114 cents – 514 more than any other player – heading into Friday’s Storm game against the Sun, averaging at least five assists per game in 15 of his 19 seasons and at least six five times. She’s a career 39.2% 3s shooter with a penchant for hitting big shots when her team needs them, and also comes second in career 3s (965), fourth in steals (700) and seventh in scoring ( 6,639).
While initially relatively soft-spoken, Bird became increasingly open about her personal life, turning her into a cultural icon in the process. She came out as gay and revealed her relationship with soccer star (now fiancée) Megan Rapinoe, with whom she hosted the ESPYS alongside fellow Seattle Star Russell Wilson in 2020. Off the field, she served as vice- president of the WNBA Players’ Association and helped negotiate the league’s landmark 2020 collective bargaining agreement.
Bird’s announcement coincides with the Storm’s penultimate regular-season road trip to Connecticut, where she spent her college career, and their final game in New York, where her family is from.
“As the season went on, like I said, I pretty much knew that, and then once I saw the program, then once I started packing for this trip, I I was like, ‘Oh, this is going to be my last time playing in New York. My last time in front of my family and friends. And that’s why the timing is what it is,” Bird said in a video posted by the Storm to social media.
“I really wanted to announce my retirement, saying this was my last year so I could share this with my family and friends, all the people in New York who watched me grow up so they could come to me. to see him play for the last time in my home country. So I’m excited about that. It’s also bittersweet.
The 9-5 Storm, who has won two of the last four WNBA titles, is No. 4 in the WNBA rankings as he looks to send Bird into the lead with one final title.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.