“Thank you Sue!” “Thank you Sue!” “Thank you Sue!”
The cries rang throughout Climate Pledge Arena Tuesday in the moments after the final buzzer. The Seattle Storm’s Game 4 semifinal loss to the Las Vegas Aces, and subsequent playoff elimination, was disappointing. But fans stayed in the seats to bid farewell to one of the game’s all-time greats.
“It’s sad. Obviously, so thankful for 20 years here,” Bird told ESPN’s Holly Rowe in a post-game interview. “I’m gonna miss it so much. I’m not going anywhere, but I’m gonna miss it. ... I’m so, so proud to be a member of the Seattle Storm.”
Last September, Seattle fans showered Bird with cries of “one more year!” following the Storm’s playoff loss to the Phoenix Mercury. The 13-time All-Star and four-time champion heeded their calls, coming back for her 19th WNBA season.
On Tuesday, Bird showed her gratitude.
“I know the tears don’t look like happy tears, but there’s a lot of happiness,” she said, via ESPN.
"THANK YOU SUE!"— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 7, 2022
Sue Bird's final sendoff ❤️ pic.twitter.com/y9HMg8jnjJ
Bird, 41, retires as one of the most most accomplished out gay athletes ever. In addition to being a four-time WNBA champion, she’s won five Olympic gold medals, five EuroLeague crowns and two NCAA titles (she was the floor leader for the undefeated UConn Huskies of 2001-02, widely considering the greatest team in women’s college basketball history).
She averaged 11.7 points per game and 5.6 assists per contest over her illustrious pro career, all of which was spent with the Storm, who selected her with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 WNBA Draft. Bird is the WNBA’s all-time leader in assists and games played.
Married to Megan Rapinoe, Bird is also one half of the most notorious power couples in sports history. She may have played her last game, but her impact is indelible.
It was special seeing Bird receive the sendoff she deserves. What a legend.