The end of Sue Bird’s retirement will come when the WNBA season approaches in four months and the Storm’s blueprint is a new course without the greatest point guard in franchise history.
Ceremonially, the Storm would bid farewell to and honor Bird when she retired her jersey number 10 at Climate Pledge Arena on June 11 during a game against the Washington Mystics.
Former Byrd teammate Lauren Jackson is the only other Storm player to have her jersey retired.
“I know at some point we’re going to bring her back and retire her jersey, but why stop there?” Storm coach Noel Quinn said last season. “You should get a statue outside the building for what you’ve done not just for this franchise, but for this league, this sport, and this city. Can anyone make sure that happens?”
“I’ve said it over and over again, Sue deserves all her flowers. She’s a role model and has been an ambassador not just for women’s basketball but for the sport in general for over 20 years. Of course, her biggest influence has been here and we see what she’s done with this team since her arrival. … Sue Bird embodies stormy basketball because she does it the right way every single day.”
Since being drafted #1 overall in the 2002 WNBA Draft, Byrd has spent her 21-year career playing 19 seasons for the Storm.
The 5-foot-9 ponytail playmaker from Syosset, New York became a Seattle icon and a fixture in the Storm’s lineup while playing and starting 640 games—the most in WNBA history—and compiling a 333-247 regular season record and 34-26 mark in playoffs for more than two decades.
She announced retirement plans last June and spent the second half of the 2022 season singing praises during a farewell tour that drew thousands of fans who flocked in droves to watch her final stops around the league.
At first, the steel bird was reluctant to be honored with pre-match ceremonies and ceremonies, but she was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and affection bestowed upon her.
“The Farewell Tour was great,” said Bird. “I didn’t know what I was getting into or could have predicted what it was going to be like, but I couldn’t have asked for a better goodbye. All the love, obviously here in Seattle but even on the road just seeing the turnout and seeing people put on my shirt or people put on my shoes or People holding up banners. It was unbelievable and I’m really glad I did. I wasn’t sure I wanted to and now I can’t imagine not doing it.
Bird played her final game on September 6, 2022 during a 97-92 loss to the Las Vegas Aces in Game 4 of the WNBA Semifinals. I walked off the field for the last time as the Climate Pledge Arena chanted “Thank you, Sue!”
“One of the hardest things about retiring is never being in a team environment again,” Bird said at the time. “That’s 100% one of the hardest parts. It’s really hard to replicate what the environment is and what if you feel. It’s such a safe place. … It’s so unique and intimate. You get to war with people and that relationship is so special. I’ll probably miss that the most.”
Am I going to miss the games? Funny thing happened on the bus. Or someone tripped and fell in the warmth and we laughed. Stupid things like that. Those are the moments and that’s what makes them special. I’m definitely going to miss that the most.
Bird, 42, is widely considered the greatest guard in WNBA history and leaves behind an impressive legacy that includes four WNBA championships and 13 WNBA All-Star appearances as well as league records for most wins (333) and assists (3234).
Of course, the impact of birds goes beyond the storm. The former Connecticut Huskies star won two NCAA championships, a record five Olympic gold medals with the women’s national team and five Euroleague titles.
“At some point I’m going to look back at everything, reflect a little bit and take it all in,” Beard said. “It’s just a lot. There’s a lot you think about. … Mostly I’ll miss the people. All the people I played with, the coaches, the people in the building, the Storm fans who really embraced me and took me in.
“There’s a lot to process now. But down the road, I’ll get a chance. And it’s not like I’m going too far. I’ll be around.”