For the first time since making her WNBA debut two decades ago, Sue Bird is unsure if she just played her last basketball game.
“This is the first off-season where I feel like I need to weigh [the decision],” Bird told reporters after the Seattle Storm’s 85-80 overtime loss to the Phoenix Mercury in round two of the 2021 WNBA Playoffs.
“Usually I’m like, ‘Nope, one more year,'” Bird said. “This is the first time I’m really gonna sit back and, I don’t know, see how I feel.”
On Sunday night at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, Washington, it was the Storm’s fans – encouraged by Diana Taurasi – shouting ‘One more year!’
Bird, overcome by emotion, buried her face in her jersey.
“The minute I even let myself think about [making a decision about retirement], it makes me want to cry,” Bird told reporters. “I’ve been really trying to push away those thoughts. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to function this season if I thought to myself, ‘This is the last one.'”
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After the game, Bird and Taurasi – the only basketball players in history to win five Olympic gold medals – traded jerseys.
“We’ve never done it before,” Bird said of the jersey swap, noting that they made a plan to trade ahead of the game. “The reality is: it might be the last time we played against each other.”
Storm head coach Noelle Quinn, who is four years younger than Bird and played alongside her as a teammate for five seasons, says she will respect whatever decision Bird makes.
“It’s Sue’s world,” Quinn said. “We’ll back her whatever she does.”
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