If you’ve followed basketball at any point in the last two decades, you’ve probably heard of Sue Bird. Over the course of her career, she’s racked up quite a few accomplishments. She’s a high school champion, NCAA champion, Olympic champion, and WNBA champion.
At 37 years old, Sue Bird doesn’t have anything left to prove. She’s won everywhere she’s been and continues to play at the highest level.
Now in her 15th year as the Seattle Storm’s point guard, she’s currently second in the WNBA in assists and her assist to turnover ratio leads the league for players with more than 60 dimes. But, her success on the court goes beyond her elite passing abilities.
It starts with a question: What is the most important thing in sports? Ask Sue Bird and I’m sure she will tell you that winning supersedes everything. I realize that isn’t exactly the #hottake of the century, but it’s what has made her career sustainable.
Consider the following:
Sue Bird is a Court General. Sue is always communicating with her teammates on the court. I’ve never seen a player talk as much as Bird. Watch any Storm game and you’ll see that she is constantly giving instruction, feedback, etc. to her teammates. Communication is the key to success, people.
Sue Bird is unselfish. She always make the pass, or the extra pass to find an open teammate. If you’re open, Sue Bird will find you. While hockey assists aren’t counted in basketball, you can bet that Bird has more than a few.
Sue Bird hustles. Again, watch any Storm game and you’ll see players 15 years her junior not moving or getting back on defense as quickly. She never takes plays off.
Sue Bird has range. Despite her reputation as a pass-first point guard, Sue Bird makes buckets, y’all. Her range is incredible.
Sue Bird is a calming presence. Google “Sue Bird fight” and you literally only find one video of a inconsequential scuffle during the 2010 EuroLeague final. Also, Sue isn’t going to get in the middle of a teammate’s nonsense, she’s going to divert. You go, Sue. Keep the peace.
While she takes games off to rest and heal nagging injuries from career that has spanned almost two decades, she still makes the most of her minutes on the floor. If box +/- took teammate communication and all of her other intangibles into account, Sue would be a +30 every game. That leads to the next point:
Sue Bird is a coach’s dream. Not only is she still playing at an elite level, she is also imparting her years of basketball wisdom to the next generation of WNBA superstars, namely teammates Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd. This will be an essential part of her legacy. While we will never see another Sue Bird, her knowledge and passion is being passed down to the next generation.
Sue Bird is eternal.
Bird has yet to hint at a possible retirement date, saying “I’ll see you in 2029!” when talking to reporters during a USA Basketball press conference. If you ask me, as long as she keeps taking her coffee naps, she’ll be around for awhile.
She keeps finding ways to tweak her game and I would say that 2018 Sue Bird might be the greatest version of Sue Bird we will ever know. Until 2019.