Put some respect … in fact, put ALL the respect on the name of Sue Bird – Seattle sports icon … and Long Island’s very own.
After closing out the wubble with its fourth WNBA championship, the Seattle Storm have tied the Minnesota Lynx and Houston Comets for the most titles in W history.
And while the Storm have been through its fair share of ups and downs throughout No. 10’s tenure with the team, she has been the one constant.
Playing in Seattle, she knows all about peaks and valleys given the geography of the area. Throughout her time with the team, Bird has encountered coaching changes, rebuilds and even an ownership change.
But her resume does not lie. In addition to the four WNBA championships she has won, those championships were won in three different decades. In addition – 11 WNBA All-Star appearances (including one at the first-ever WNBA All-Star in Seattle) one of the Top 20 Players of All-Time, two NCAA national championships with UConn and is the all-time assists leader. Plus – four Olympic gold medals.
There have been plenty of conversations this week about all-time Seattle great athletes with a popular name being mentioned in that (virtual, nowadays) watercooler discussion being a certain Seattle Seahawks quarterback. And while Mr. Ciara (aka Russell Wilson) is willing to be in that discussion, one must not overlook Bird’s impact on Seattle.
Yes – Ken Griffey, Jr. belongs on that list. Yes – Wilson belongs on that list. Yes – Ichiro Suzuki belongs on that list. Yes – Edgar Martinez belongs on that list. Yes – Felix Hernandez belongs on that list. Yes – Gary Payton belongs on that list. Yes – Shawn Kemp belongs on that list. Yes – Ray Allen belongs on that list.
Yes – even Kevin Durant belongs on that list. #SeattleDraftedDurant.
But four championships and an effect on the Seattle community that extends far past basketball cannot be overlooked. And with the trajectory that Breanna Stewart’s career is on, it will not be long before she occupies the same Seattle sports Mount Rushmore Bird is already firmly on.
One not often talked about element to Bird’s impact on the Seattle sports landscape is the fact that Seattle is a city that is extremely passionate about basketball. That is why when the Sonics were sold and shipped to Oklahoma City, it felt like the city’s heart was ripped out of it from under its very nose.
The Storm were not included (thankfully for the Emerald City’s hoops fans) in the sale of the Sonics to Clay Bennett, but a huge responsibility was placed on the Storm to fill the Seattle basketball void left by the Sonics.
Since the Sonics sale and move in 2008, the Storm have won three of its four championships – all with Sue Bird at the helm.
This is 2020 – we are not erasing the athletic accomplishments of women anymore. If one does so, one should be called out on it and rightfully so. Downplay and disrespect the W all one wants, but the rings do not lie. Bird has literally been a centerpiece of a Seattle sports dynasty. Those three (now four) championship banners that will be raised atop Climate Pledge Arena when its construction is complete are owed in large part to Bird and her longevity over the years.
And for all of the “retirement” talk that ensued on Twitter and Instagram after this year’s title was won – miss us with that noise. Our guess is she comes back for one more season in 2021 because she wants to win one more WNBA championship (for the thumb) in addition to a fifth Olympic gold medal if/when the Olympics ensue at Tokyo next year.
Bird has made herself more than deserving of her Seattle sports flowers. Any discussion of all-time great Seattle sports athletes that does not include is not a legitimate discussion. Any Seattle sports Mount Rushmore where her face is on it is a wannabe mountain. Her accomplishments speak for herself that she will be inducted in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame when all is said and done.
Now here is one generous request we need to make to the fine folks at Oak View Group when Climate Pledge Arena is all complete and ready to go for the Storm and the NHL’s Seattle Kraken…
A Sue Bird statue.