Those that stick to the NBA for their share of basketball miss out on stars that don’t get the recognition they deserve. Sue Bird, Long Island native and one of the greatest WNBA players to ever play, has achieved what many NBA players wish they did.
“Never did I sit down as an 18-year old and say ‘By the time you’re done, you will have this many championships and this many gold medals,’” said Bird. “You take it as it comes. You try to be the best player you can and win championships. That’s how I approach things and I’m very lucky to be where I am now.”
When she was little, Bird looked up to her older sister, Jen Bird, who was an athlete in school. She served as an inspiration to Sue to get involved with sports in school.
“As long as she was playing basketball, I was always going to the games,” said Bird. “Anytime there was a timeout, I would grab a ball, run out onto the court and get as many shots off as I could. Then when timeout was over, I had to run back and go sit with my mom.”
As she reached Syosset High School, Bird’s main focus was on basketball and soccer. However, after a few years of play, she transferred to Christ The King Regional High School in Queens and decided on one sport.
“That’s when I realized I wanted to go to college for basketball,” said Bird.
Early on, Bird showed why she was bound to have a breakout career. Her accolades at Christ The King included winning a national championship in her senior season, becoming a WBCA All-American, and being named New York State Player of the Year.
Her success continued at the University of Connecticut where she won two national titles with the team in 2000 and 2002. She won the Wade Trophy and the Naismith Award after her senior season, which earned her the title of college basketball player of the year. These achievements led to her getting picked first in the WNBA draft by the Seattle Storm.
Since her professional career began in 2002, she has become an 11-time WNBA All-Star, five-time All-WNBA First Team member, four-time Olympic gold medalist, and three-time World Cup gold medalist. She won three championships with the Storm, including the 2018 championship. She is competing in her fifth World Cup and, at 37, has no plans to stop anytime soon.