Female Athlete Spotlight: Sue Bird

Throughout Sue Bird’s 17-year WNBA playing career with the Seattle Storm, she has proven to be one of the greatest point guards in league history. Bird has been a habitual winner in high school, college, the pros, and the Olympics. At age 40, she is the WNBA’s All-Time assist leader as she enters her 18th season this coming summer with hopes of chasing a fifth WNBA championship.

Bird was born and raised in Syosset, a suburb of New York city. Her father’s ancestry was Russian Jewish, but her mother raised her Christian. Bird began playing AAU basketball in sixth grade, emerging as a standout. She attended Syosset High School her first two years, before transferring to Christ The King Regional High School in Queens. In her senior year, she led her undefeated high school team to the state championship and the national title and was named the New York State Player of the Year. 

Bird, who received several scholarship offers, ultimately chose to play for the powerhouse University of Connecticut (UCONN) women’s basketball program. Although she missed most of her freshman season due to injury, she dominated in her following three years, leading the Huskies to two NCAA championships. In her senior year, she led an undefeated Huskies team, and captured the Wade Trophy, Honda Sports Award, and the Naismith College Player of the Year award. 

In the 2002 WNBA Draft, then Seattle Storm general manager and head coach Lin Dunn selected Bird no. 1 overall, giving Bird the opportunity to join forces with Lauren Jackson, another phenom drafted one year earlier. Bird and Jackson were to become one of the greatest superstar tandems in WNBA history. The two superstars helped lead the Storm to the franchise’s first two WNBA championships in 2004 and 2010. Bird, one of the toughest and most consummate WNBA players of the past two decades, has helped lead the USA Olympic Women’s Basketball Team to four Olympic gold medals (2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016). In 2016, she was named to the WNBA’s 20@20 Team — the voted-upon 20 Greatest Players in WNBA history commemorating the 20-year anniversary of the league’s existence. 
Bird has been a part of two more recent Storm championship teams in 2018 and 2020, involving a whole new cast of teammates. Bird, one of the league’s all-time great floor leaders, facilitators, and outside shooters, has played in more WNBA All-Star Games than anyone in history — 11. The 5-time All-WNBA First Team selection has also notably played in more WNBA games than anyone in history. As she has had the longest-tenured WNBA career in history, it is clear that her legendary career is closer to the finish than the start. Nonetheless, it will be a treat to watch whatever is left of Bird’s future Hall of Fame playing career. In addition to being an all-time great WNBA player, Bird has also been a stellar role model off the court and extremely involved in improving the communities around her.

Hear Sue Bird talk about her experiences in the WNBA and current plans on Legends Of Sport. Listen here or watch the full interview on YouTube.

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