Sue Bird is not only women’s basketball royalty, women’s sports royalty or basketball royalty. She is sports royalty period.
A favorite daughter of Long Island (!!!) that went on to an illustrious career at UConn and into the WNBA, Bird is one of those that they should already be working on a bust of at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Her four WNBA championships (all throughout the life of the Seattle Storm franchise) and her five Olympic gold medals are more than enough proof of Bird’s prolonged greatness even to this day.
But recently, her Storm were bounced out of the playoffs on their temporary home floor at Angel of the Winds Arena in suburban Everett. The Phoenix Mercury ended the Storm’s 2021 season with an 85-80 win over Seattle.
The Mercury advance to face the Las Vegas Aces in the WNBA semifinals. Meanwhile, the other semifinal contest will feature the Chicago Sky and Connecticut Sun after the Sky earned the right to face the Sun after defeating the Minnesota Lynx in a single-elimination second round game.
The crowd at Everett began chanting “One more year! One more year!” as an indication that 2021 may be the final season we see Bird don a WNBA uniform.
If it is, then what a career she has had. She has been with the Storm through its ups and downs from the sale of the franchise to its current ownership group, Force 10 Hoops, in the late 2000s to being the primary tenant of the old KeyArena, to the Storm’s current that also includes Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd.
The Storm are not even an Original Eight franchise as the Mercury, Los Angeles Sparks and New York Liberty are, but they have had so much success over its years one would think the Storm are an Original Eight team.
Either way, something feels different about the ending to this season already that it is more up in the air this go round than previous ones that posed the question as to if Bird will return.
Ultimately, it will be her decision on if she decides to retire or return for the 2022 season. There is one major reason as to why we can hope she decides to come back for that one more year.
The last time the Storm played a season in its primary arena that features its iconic roof was 2018 – the same season the Storm won its third of four WNBA championships in franchise history. Since then, Seattle in 2019 split its home schedule between Alaska Airlines Arena (University of Washington) and Angel of the Winds Arena.
The 2020 season, of course, was forced to the Florida bubble on account of the pandemic. This season, the Storm played its entire season at Angel of the Winds Arena to account for the construction of the new arena that is taking place.
That new arena is Climate Pledge Arena, a full-scale green makeover of the old KeyArena that brings it up to modern-day standards. It will officially open next month with a Coldplay concert and then being the home ice for the Seattle Kraken, the Emerald City’s new NHL team.
But this arena is essentially The Greenhouse that Sue Built.
Maybe she did not want a much-ballyhooed send-off the way Tamika Catchings and Swin Cash got during the 2016 season and preferred things to be low-key. The Storm will move into Climate Pledge Arena starting with next season and given how Bird and the Storm have kept that building relevant since Clay Bennett and company stole the Sonics and kidnapped them to Oklahoma City, Bird deserves to be on the court one more time for one more reason in an arena that is more than worthy of playing host to WNBA basketball.
If 2021 is Bird’s last season, there will be more than enough time to celebrate her career. But if 2022 ends up being her “last dance,” it deserves to be with a proper farewell tour where she is honored in every WNBA building (looking especially at you, Barclays Center and Liberty and you Mohegan Sun Arena and Sun) and playing in a home venue that was probably a few Storm championships shy of meeting the wrecking ball.