WNBA legend Sue Bird retires after this season: ‘I’m going to miss him’

WNBA legend Sue Chicken, the league’s helping assists chief, introduced Thursday that she’s going to retire on the finish of the 2022 season.

“I’ve determined this will probably be my final yr,” Baird, 41, posted on social media. “I liked each minute, and I nonetheless adore it, so I will play final yr, similar to this little woman I performed first.”

The 12-time All-Star and 8-time All-WNBA Choose had beforehand mentioned she was contemplating retiring after the 2021 marketing campaign, however this previous season she signed a one-year contract with Seattle Storm, spending her total 21-year WNBA profession. Though she has indicated that this can be her final season, she has not publicly dedicated to something but.

“You solely know when ,” Byrd advised Connecticut media Thursday after the announcement, including that Storm’s East Coast cruise, which options its final sport in her residence state of New York on Sunday, prompted the timing of her announcement.

“In fact, I am unhappy,” Baird mentioned. “It’s kind of like mourning, realizing I will miss him. However I imply, I’ve no regrets. I really feel so good about my profession, the individuals I’ve met, the issues we have all achieved.. and I am excited for the following chapter.”

She joins Sylvia Fowles, the league’s all-time restoration chief who can be thought of one of many all-time greats, because the WNBA stars to announce their retirement after the 2022 season.

Chicken’s ornate profession spanning 20 years and on all ranges has propelled her into the dialog of one of many biggest basketball gamers and champions of all time. The primary draft in 2002 gained 4 WNBA titles with Storm in 2004, 2010, 2018, and 2020, making her the one WNBA participant to win titles over three many years. She was additionally chosen for each notable WNBA workforce, together with the W25 as not too long ago as 2021.

“I’m very proud to have performed all through my profession in Seattle,” Chicken mentioned. “I’ve simply loved all my time right here. I really feel very related to the workforce, to town, to the fan base, to all of the those who got here in, and that is actually what it is about. I feel you are related to a profession, you understand it is actually in regards to the individuals. So I am actually lucky to have performed in a corporation High-tier gamers alongside a number of the greatest gamers on the planet, and I would not commerce them for something.”

Chicken added to her historic success on the worldwide stage final yr in Tokyo, when she helped NBA convey residence its ninth and seventh Olympic gold medals, respectively. Alongside together with his greatest pal and former UConn teammate Diana Taurasi, the duo turned the primary basketball gamers to win 5 Olympic gold medals.

Syosset, New York, starred in Christ the King Excessive Faculty in Queens earlier than selecting to play for coach Geno Auriemma at UConn, the place she directed the Huskies to nationwide titles in 2000 and 2002, her second and third program titles. She was named the Nationwide Participant of the Yr in 2002 whereas she was a part of the 5 greatest gamers in girls’s faculty basketball historical past.

The spacious Chicken Cup bag additionally options 4 FIBA ​​World Championship gold medals with Group USA and 5 Euroleague titles with Spartak Moscow and MMC Yekaterinburg.

Chicken, who missed time this WNBA season on COVID-19 protocols and extra not too long ago with a non-COVID-19 sickness, averages 7.8 factors on her 33.8% taking pictures (each profession lows), however her 6.6 assists per sport correlates together with her second most in her skilled life.

“I really feel like I’ve performed for so long as doable at a extremely excessive stage, each bodily and mentally, and it simply acquired increasingly more troublesome,” Baird mentioned.

Nevertheless, her longevity – which she credit for her work with efficiency coach Suzanne Borchardt – is unparalleled, together with her 19 seasons taking part in within the league (she missed 2013 and 2019 on account of damage) greater than some other participant. She is the one WNBA participant to have appeared in no less than 500 video games, beginning with all 559 profession competitions.

“I hope different gamers see a run like this, see its size, see its success, and know they will make it too,” Chicken mentioned. “It isn’t straightforward, however it’s doable. There are methods you may play for a really very long time. And I hope to be one of many athletes who helped begin this combo in girls’s basketball.”

The 5-foot-9 goalkeeper scored an help in her 3,000th profession profession on July 9, 2021, and boasts 3114 dimes – 514 occasions greater than some other participant – en path to Friday’s Storm sport in opposition to the Solar, averaging 5 assists. No less than essential for each participant. In 15 of her nineteen seasons and 6 no less than 5 occasions. She is a profession shooter with 39.2% of three with a penchant for making huge photographs when her workforce wants it, and in addition is available in second in 3 seconds (965), fourth in steals (700) and seventh in scoring (6639).

“It is thrilling to look at individuals rating, it is thrilling to look at individuals who can placed on superb performs on the ground,” Chicken mentioned of her legacy from the best way the sport was performed. “However it’s additionally essential to have a participant who places the workforce first, thinks in regards to the sport that means, and all the time enjoys being a participant like glue. And you’ll obtain success that means too.”

Whereas Chicken was initially comparatively soft-spoken, she has more and more opened up about her private life, turning her right into a cultural icon within the course of. She got here out as homosexual and revealed her relationship with (now relationship) soccer star Megan Rapinoe, with whom she hosted ESPYS alongside Seattle star Russell Wilson in 2020. Off the sector, she served as vp of the WNBA Gamers Affiliation and helped negotiate a collective bargaining settlement The historical past between the league and the gamers in 2020.

Chicken has diversified her off-court portfolio lately with a number of endeavors, together with a front-office place with the Denver Nuggets and an ESPN mega with Torassi throughout final spring’s Ultimate 4. She mentioned there are issues “on the horizon I can stay up for” as she considers subsequent steps.

“That is actually how stunning it’s,” Baird mentioned. “When Derek Jeter retired, he mentioned he was wanting ahead to being younger once more. I spotted it was really 41. So it is actually thrilling to know that what awaits me, I could be younger once more, I can attempt new issues and see what’s on the market” .

Byrd’s announcement coincides with Storm’s second-to-last common season journey to Connecticut, the place she’s spent her profession.

“There’s undoubtedly nothing Sue has left with out work or proof,” Yukon coach Gino Orima mentioned. “There’s going to be a number of tales written and comparisons about it and the whole lot I’ve accomplished. It is not likely an exaggeration to say, not excited about our life watching basketball, that we have seen anybody play that place at the next stage and for an extended time frame than Sue has.”

The 9-5 Storm, who has gained two of the previous 4 WNBA titles, ranks fourth within the WNBA rankings As a result of they search to ship Chicken up entrance with one final title.

Data from the Related Press was used on this report.