Even with her team losing big in the middle of a lost season, it was hard to find moments when Long Island's Sue Bird wasn't smiling while she was on the Madison Square Garden hardwood.
A 78-62 loss to the Liberty on Sunday dropped the Seattle Storm to 5-16. Bird anticipated that this would be a rebuilding year for the team she's played for since being drafted No. 1 overall out of Connecticut in 2002. But frankly, it hasn't mattered.
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"The one thing I can say about this season is it's been really enjoyable, and it's not often somebody can say that about a losing season," said Bird, a 5-9 guard who is a two-time WNBA champion and nine-time All-Star. "It's really the group of people that we have and the types of people that we have and how eager everyone is to learn. Both on and off the court, we get along really well."
Bird, 34, is the oldest player on the Storm by six years. That fact, in conjunction with four surgeries in seven years, has prompted questions about retirement from the media the last few seasons.
"No plans," Bird said with a smile. "I don't really think of it. It's not something that's on my mind day to day. The longest- term statement I can give is that I would love to play in next year's Olympics in Rio. I'm really just trying to focus on my Storm seasons and that."
Meanwhile, Bird, who played two years for Syosset High School before transferring to Christ the King in Queens, is doing everything she can to remain in basketball shape. That includes not playing overseas this past winter.
"I needed it," Bird said of the break. "Just to kind of work on myself, work on my body, get healthy."
It also includes having a good time on the court. Against the Liberty, she scored 14 points in front of friends and family.
"Growing up, this is the place that I associated with professional basketball," Bird said. "I love it here."