Sue Bird Retires from WNBA After 20-Year Career: 'Didn't Really Want to Leave the Court'

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Sue Bird #10 of the Seattle Storm reacts after losing to the Las Vegas Aces 97-92 in her final game of her career during Game Four of the 2022 WNBA Playoffs semifinals at Climate Pledge Arena on September 06, 2022 in Seattle, Washington.
Sue Bird #10 of the Seattle Storm reacts after losing to the Las Vegas Aces 97-92 in her final game of her career during Game Four of the 2022 WNBA Playoffs semifinals at Climate Pledge Arena on September 06, 2022 in Seattle, Washington.

Steph Chambers/Getty Sue Bird

It's an end of an era for Sue Bird, who is considered by many to be one of the greatest players in WNBA history.

On Sept. 6, after Bird and her Seattle Storm were eliminated from the WNBA playoffs, the basketball star officially hung up her sneakers and retired from the league.

In a tough Game 4 during their semifinal series against the Las Vegas Aces, the Storm lost 97-92, bringing an end to the 40-year-old Bird's epic career. She initially walked with her team off the court in Seattle, before changing course and going back.

"I didn't really want to leave the court," Bird said in her postgame press conference, ESPN reported. "It felt like that's where everybody was going, so I just followed at first. But I also wanted to kind of have one last moment to say thank you, to soak it all in, because in some ways it is a happy thing."

Sue Bird #10 of the Seattle Storm dribbles the ball during Round 2 Game 4 of the 2022 WNBA Playoffs on September 6, 2022 at the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington.
Sue Bird #10 of the Seattle Storm dribbles the ball during Round 2 Game 4 of the 2022 WNBA Playoffs on September 6, 2022 at the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington.

Joshua Huston/NBAE via Getty Sue Bird

Speaking not long after the loss, Bird said she's still figuring out how she feels about the end of her career.

"I think initially I felt sad about the season and the game," she said. "I then think, as the emotions started to come to the surface, that's also what I know deep down in that, that was my last game. So it was a combination of those two things, but overall it just feels kind of weird."

Bird and the Storm had hoped to end her final season with another WNBA title, which would've been her fifth, but couldn't overcome the Aces. The Seattle crowd chanted and cheered for Bird after the loss.

"I'm proud of everything we've accomplished here," she said. "Of course I'm sad, but there's happiness too, to be able to have a moment like that with the fans, to have them chant the way they did. I know the tears don't look like happy tears, but there's a lot of happiness."

Sue Bird #10 of the Seattle Storm handles the ball during the game against the Las Vegas Aces on September 6, 2022 at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington.
Sue Bird #10 of the Seattle Storm handles the ball during the game against the Las Vegas Aces on September 6, 2022 at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington.

Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Sue Bird

Bird, a native of New York, first made her name known at the University of Connecticut when she entered as a student-athlete in 1998. After recovering from an ACL injury, she helped lead the Huskies to a 2000 championship and capped her undefeated senior year with a 2002 championship.

In 2002, Bird was the first overall pick in the WNBA draft and was selected by the Storm. Throughout her close to two decades in the league, she became a four-time WNBA champion, the league's all-time assist leader, a 12-time WNBA All-Star, five-time All-WNBA First Team member and was recently named to the W25 greatest of all time.

Outside of the WNBA, Bird collected a medley of international accolades, including her fifth Olympic gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics alongside fellow five-time gold medalist Taurasi. Bird is also a five-time EuroLeague Champion and two-time Europe SuperCup winner.

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Off the court, Bird publicly came out as gay in 2017, sharing in the same ESPN article that she was in a relationship with soccer star Megan Rapinoe, whom she started dating after meeting at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The couple got engaged four years later in October 2020.

Though her basketball career has come to a close, Bird is continuing to be a pioneer.

In March, she teamed up with fellow Olympians Chloe Kim, Simone Manuel and Alex Morgan to create TOGETHXR, a new media and commerce company focused on giving a platform to women and women's sports.