Appreciation: Sue Bird gives long-lasting basketball assist

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Sue Bird knows how to win. She does. That’s what she’s always done. Few athletes can match the success of the point guard in women’s basketball. Bill Russell and Serena Williams come to mind.

Yet despite decades of success, GOAT’s narrative is relatively new.

The greatest gossip of all time seemed to gain momentum as the selfless 5ft 8in ground general stepped out of the shadows and into the spotlight a few years ago.

“For me, Sue is in some ways an example or an illustration of the growth of the league. she arrived when she was just a few years old and there was no social media then and Sue was a much more private person then,” Storm owner Ginny Gilder said. “Sue has really found her voice over the last five or six years, and the league has found its own.”

Bird’s career came to an end Tuesday night with the Seattle Storm’s 97-92 home loss to Las Vegas in Game 4 of the semi-final series. Bird, 41, had eight points and eight assists.

Bird has been more outspoken off the pitch on a variety of issues including social justice, LGBTQ issues and women’s rights in the past few years since she began dating her fiancée, football great Megan Rapinoe.

“I felt like I was open. Everyone in my life knew. I just hadn’t had this conversation with a reporter,” Bird told The Associated Press in 2018 about his sexuality. . “I understand now that by saying it publicly, you can have an impact. That’s what we’re talking about right now.”

People are used to listening to what champions have to say — Russell has won 11 NBA titles and Williams has 23 Grand Slam tennis titles — especially when they win the right way.

Bird won two national college titles at UConn, four WNBA championships with the Seattle Storm and five Olympic gold medals with the United States. championships she won.

One of women’s basketball’s most beloved players, the nerdy sense-of-humour guard doesn’t have the public swagger of her friend and fellow basketball superstar Diana Taurasi.

Bird also doesn’t have an MVP trophy, although his worth has never been in question. His greatness comes from putting his teammates in a position to do great things. The Storm saw it and they drafted her No. 1 in 2002, and she spent her entire WNBA career in Seattle.

Bird is part of a rare club; a group of professional basketball players to play over 20 years with the same organization, including Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki.

“The bond she has with Seattle, it’s a very special thing,” said Dan Hughes, who coached Bird for a few seasons as well as the Olympic team in 2021. “In a major league city that has soccer, had basketball, baseball has all those types of sports has a college nearby, there’s nothing like what she’s created.

“In this community, there are people who all have their history with Sue Bird. People identify with her in Seattle and that doesn’t happen very often. When it does, it’s pretty special.

Like other aging champions in Serena, who has indicated she is done with competitive tennis, and Allyson Felix, the track star who also retired this year, Bird has not let her career end without a fight.

She hit a 3-pointer in Game 3 that gave Seattle the lead with 0.8 seconds left only to see Las Vegas hit a blow at the buzzer to send the game into overtime where the Aces retired for the win.

Bird had a rocky end to his career scoring just eight points on 3 of 8 shots.

The loss ended a ride she shared with Taurasi, also a UConn alum.

“Thinking back, it’s amazing to be in a job with your best friend for 20 years,” Taurasi said. “You can’t do that, most people don’t do that in any job, let alone basketball. So, it’s been an amazing journey.

The one that made Bird – the WNBA’s career assists leader – one of the most popular and respected players to ever play in the league.

After Bird announced that this would be her final season, fans flocked to watch her perform one last time. Games at Storm Road have consistently drawn the biggest crowds of the season for the host team, including 14,162 people who came to watch Bird’s final game in Phoenix against Taurasi.

It is an admiration that is transmitted to his peers.

“When you’re playing with her and being around her as a teammate, you appreciate what she brings so much,” said Jen Rizzotti, who coached her to the 2021 Olympic team. respected, players in the league talk so much about her and admire her.

And of course the way Bird behaves would make any parent proud.

“To see what she’s accomplished, I can’t say enough about her,” Bird’s mother Nancy said. “It’s amazing, she’s always loved sports.”

Bird has literally managed to share his love of the game with others.

“She treated people the right way and led the right way,” Rizzotti said. Bird “has been so selfless in a way that has made other players really good, it’s hard for anyone not to love him.”

AP Sports Writer Tim Booth contributed to this report.

More WNBA playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/wnba-playoffs and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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