Seattle Storm point guard Sue Bird has played for over a decade in the WNBA and is one of the most recognizable players in the league. As a player, she won two WNBA championships (2004, 2010), won three Olympic Gold Medals (2004, 2008, 2012), and eight All-Star Game appearances. However, she has played overseas in every offseason since 2004, where she was on Dynamo Moscow (2004-2006), Spartak Moscow Region (2006-2011), and UMMC Ekaterinburg (2011-2014). Unfortunately, overseas play limited her visibility once the fall and winter seasons come around.
This offseason however, Bird has decided to stay home in the United States, where she has been more active at Seattle Storm events and also as a color analyst for ESPN's women's college basketball games. She even got to be part of the State Farm National Bureau of Assists. Now, the WNBA has released a lengthy video on Bird (embedded above), where she talks about her high school, college, and pro careers. The video was taped at Christ the King Regional High School in Queens, New York, where she graduated in 1998. She visited the team on March 10, 2015 and had a chance to talk to the Royals' current players.
In case you don't have a bit over 11 minutes to watch the entire video, here are just some of the notable tidbits that you may not have known about her until today. I've separated the tidbits based on various points in her career:
High School and College days
- Bird mentioned early in the video that she's a reserved person. In her early high school years, Bird's parents divorced, but she never opened up to many people about it.
- Even though she was one of the top high school players in the country, Bird's last game at Christ the King wasn't her best. She was fouled on a three-point shot attempt and missed all three free throws in a state championship game. However, one of her teammates grabbed an offensive rebound and scored which saved the day.
- At UConn, Bird talked about a moment when head coach Geno Auriemma brought her to his office and said "If anything bad happens, it's your fault." This moment was about making her a more vocal leader and accepting more responsibility for the team.
- As a Storm player, Bird mentioned that it was hard to lose games. Early in her rookie season, she would be more visibly frustrated after a loss than most of her teammates like kicking a water bottle at half time. She only lost nine games in her college career, so that was definitely an adjustment. However, she accepted that losing more in the pros "is what is," but keep in mind that Bird isn't saying that losing is acceptable. Rather, she's realizing that the competition is just more even in the WNBA than in college.
- You think Bird and former Storm center Lauren Jackson were best buddies from day one right? Nope. There was plenty of off-the-court tension between the two during Bird's rookie year. After all, Jackson was the number one pick in the draft just one year earlier. The thing that irked Jackson the most was the fact that Bird wasn't just a number one pick -- she also had the UConn hype where she led the Huskies to an undefeated 39-0 campaign just weeks before the 2002 WNBA season started.
- On-the-court, however, Bird said that they "clicked immediately" and the two eventually struck up a friendship -- after her rookie season. The rest is history.
- Bird has always been known as a leader on the court and she was accustomed to that role on the Storm. But in the 2004 Olympics, she had to be the follower where Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes, and Dawn Staley were the core trio t the time.
- Bird mentioned that Staley pulled her aside one time and told her "you're on this team for a reason. You have to do the things that got you here." Though she played sparingly during the 2004 Olympics, Bird took the time to pick Staley's brain and the way she ran the team. I'd say it's safe to say that that experience helped her moving forward.
Unlike most professional basketball players, Bird was blessed to have won an NCAA championship, a WNBA championship, and an Olympic Gold Medal by the age of 23. Bird reflected on how she would or would have responded to questions when people would ask her "What's next?" At the time, she would have replied that winning more was the goal.
Today, Bird's not so clear now that she is closer to the end of her career than the beginning. Bird finished off with this cliffhanger:
I want to finish my career on the right note, whatever that might look like, and then go from there and see what life brings.
Whether she continues her career as a color commentator on ESPN or sells more insurance with her twin sister, Bird will be great at whatever she does.