Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi might have played each other for the final time. So it’s only appropriate the two legends shared a special moment after the game.
The Phoenix Mercury beat the Seattle Storm 85-80 in overtime Sunday in the single-elimination second round. They are set to play the Las Vegas Aces in the next round.
Bird, who will turn 41 in October, says she is seriously considering retirement for the first time. “This is the first time where I’m really going to have to sit back, see how I feel, weigh some things,” said the four-time champion, via ESPN. “I know for sure that I want to let the emotion of the season die down. I don’t want to make some emotional decision.”
Taurasi, 39, could also be nearing the end of her storied career. The all-time great has been battling an ankle injury.
With that in mind, Bird and Taurasi gathered at mid-court after the final whistle had blown, and engaged in the ultimate sign of basketball respect: a jersey exchange.
All the while, Bird was being serenaded with cries to play “one more year!”
Storm fans don't want this to be the last game for Sue Bird pic.twitter.com/HoSWUyRB9Z— ESPN (@espn) September 26, 2021
Bird and Taurasi are two of the most consequential players in WNBA history. There is their unparalleled success on the court, both as rivals and teammates. They’ve won seven WNBA championships between them and made 22 All-Star teams. Bird is the all-time leader in assists; Taurasi is the all-time leader in 3-point field goals.
In college, they were champions, capturing the 2002 NCAA Title at UConn. They’ve won five gold medals playing together for Team USA, with their most recent coming last month in Tokyo.
As out stars, Bird and Taurasi have also lead the way on LGBTQ inclusion in the WNBA. It wasn’t always the most progressive sports league, and in its early years, shied away from embracing its LGBTQ fans and players.
That has changed over the last several years, with the establishment of WNBA’s formal Pride campaign in 2014. Now, out players are everywhere in the league. At least 25% of players in the playoffs are LGBTQ and out.
It’s hard to imagine that kind of representation with Bird and Taurasi. Their play will never be forgotten, and their impact is indelible.