Sue Bird officially announced her retirement last week, setting in motion a farewell tour of at least 22 games that began in Connecticut — the site of Bird’s historic collegiate career — then went to New York, Bird’s home state, and will continue into September.
With the countdown upon us, the Swish Appeal staff decided to reflect on our favorite Sue Bird moments, from UConn to Seattle to Team USA.
Cat Ariail: Throughout her career, Sue Bird has been the model of consistency. She was and is the constant, calm conductor of the Seattle Storm offense. Because of that, the moments when she has exceeded her steadying role and stepped into the spotlight are most memorable. None more so than Game 5 of the 2018 WNBA semifinals, when “Masked Sue Bird,” brandishing jumpshot daggers, emerged to eliminate the Phoenix Mercury. Her advanced (basketball) age, then 38 years old, enhanced the indelible impact of the performance.
Zack Ward: My favorite Sue Bird memory is when she found out she would be the Team USA flag bearer for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Diana Taurasi made the surprise announcement during a practice huddle and Bird tried to cover her face. She then said, “Anything I get has to do with the people that are here and do it with me.” After that, she hugged Dawn Staley, a former Team USA flag bearer and the coach of the 2021 Olympic women’s basketball team. I thought it was one of the coolest Taurasi/Bird moments because you could tell how delighted Taurasi was to make the announcement. Bird always gives thoughtful answers to the media and handles everything with class and this was no different.
What better way to start your fifth Olympic Games than as @TeamUSA's Opening Ceremony Flag Bearer!— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) July 21, 2021
Congratulations @S10Bird! Sue joins @dawnstaley as USA Basketball's only flag bearers in Olympic history. pic.twitter.com/IwAYRdyONA
Eric Nemchock: How do I choose one thing for a player who has been there ever since I started watching women’s basketball? For me, it’s hard to narrow Sue Bird’s career down to one specific memory. She’s been such a big part of the WBB landscape for so many years and has had an incredibly storied career, so picking only one moment would almost do a disservice to the rest of what she’s accomplished. If I had to choose, it would probably be her fifth Olympic gold medal with Team USA in 2020; that’s such an amazing feat and really speaks to both her longevity both as a player and as a leader.
Sabreena Merchant: Like Eric, picking one moment from Bird’s career feels impossible given her longevity, though I promise I’m never going to forget her saying “Bing Bong” to the Liberty crowd Sunday. Sue, what was that?
In all seriousness, Bird comes closest to the ideal of a true point guard — she probably is who I will compare future guards to in terms of their point-guard skills — and my favorite thing about watching her is the no-look passes. So many passers throw fake no-looks, you can see their eyes on their target before they look away. But Bird has mastered the art of hiding her intentions and delivering the pass so that it genuinely appears that she has eyes in the back of her head. It’s beautiful, and I’m going to miss it, even if it did get her in trouble with Geno Auriemma in practice more than two decades ago.
Zachary Draves: My favorite Sue Bird moment is not what she did on the court but off it. While in the Wubble in Orlando in 2020, she boldly declared that the WNBA’s longstanding history of social activism was nonnegotiable. She along with her fellow players across stood together in the pursuit for racial and social justice that has continued to intensify. Given her stature as one of the premier veterans, it made it even more significant for her to lend her voice. She is to the cause what she is on the court, tenacious, focused, determined, and unapologetically herself. Therefore, her legacy off the court is just as reverent.