Ex-LIer Sue Bird, out injured, wants to extend WNBA career
Three Olympic gold medals, two WNBA championships, two NCAA championships and two New York State Federation high school titles.
Syosset's Sue Bird has been there and done that, and hopes to accomplish more, but the Seattle Storm point guard's competitive and ambitious spirit was forced to take a season-long detour following knee surgery in May.
Missing so much action hasn't been easy on Bird, especially with her team struggling at 5-8 after a 66-57 loss to the Liberty on Tuesday.
"I'm not on the road, so you kind of miss the bonding and comradarie thing that happens," Bird said before the homecoming game of sorts in Newark. "Being somebody who's been playing for so long, I kind of took that for granted. And I see now how important it is."
Bird, in her 12th WNBA season, has come a long way from playing two seasons at Syosset High School before transferring to Christ the King in Queens. Then it was off to UConn, where she was a key player in two NCAA championship runs.
Though she was raised Christian, she is the daughter of a Jewish father and obtained Israeli citizenship in 2006, which helped open the doors to more international basketball opportunities.
"I'm still going to play overseas and I plan on being back in the WNBA next season," said Bird, who in the offseason plays for UMMC in the Russian Premier League and was MVP of the league's championship series.
Her intention to resume her career notwithstanding, every athlete that has enjoyed a long pro career eventually thinks about the end of the road.
"It's definitely something you start to think of when you get to this point in your career," said Bird. "I really just feel like my body is going to tell the story for me at the end. It's going to kind of decide it for me."
Part of her inspiration to keep playing comes from teammate and WNBA all-time leading scorer Tina Thompson. The 17-year veteran says she is retiring at season's end.
"It's impressive," said Bird. "It shows a commitment to her taking care of herself and staying ready and staying on top of her game . . . If I can get that far, that would be great."
Another downside to being injured for the season is not being able to travel with the team, especially if one of the trips includes a stop in a player's hometown.
Bird got permission to make the trip east so she could visit with her family and friends. Bird arrived before the team and was able to spend time with them. It's a trip that she holds close to her heart.
"This is home for me," she said. "Even though I don't get to spend as much time as I'd like in the New York area, it's always going to be home for me."