I’m just throwing this out here: Wouldn’t it be cool if Sue Bird was the next coach of the Liberty?
Granted the Syosset native hasn’t announced her retirement as a player. Yet, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Liberty owner Joe Tsai would make a run at the Seattle Storm point guard to fill the vacancy that was created Monday when they announced that Walt Hopkins was out as head coach after two seasons.
Tsai, who bought the Liberty in 2019, knows the value of a big name and isn’t afraid to take a runner on a former player who doesn’t have significant coaching experience.
You may remember that is exactly what he did with the Nets, his other team that plays at Barclays Center. Kenny Atkinson, like Hopkins, took over a terrible Nets team, spent time developing players and then was fired in favor of Steve Nash just when the team was on the precipice of being really good.
While Hopkins’ tenure wasn’t as long as Atkinson’s, there are some similarities in that he came up through the ranks as an assistant coach for another team and he was also known as a player development specialist.
Bird, like Nash was, is a Hall of Fame caliber point guard. She knows a number of players on the Liberty and was a childhood idol of Sabrina Ionescu. While she lacks actual coaching experience, she is the most decorated point guard in the history of the women’s game. The Liberty could also attempt to pair her with a more experienced assistant like the Nets did with Nash and Mike D’Antoni.
Maybe the big question here is not: Why would the Liberty want Bird? It’s: Why would Bird want the Liberty?
Bird may have grown up on Long Island, starred at Christ the King in Queens and played at UConn, but she has spent nearly two decades with the Storm. Though she has a house in Connecticut, she shares a condo with fiancee Megan Rapinoe in Seattle and has said she considers that her main home. This is all to say that coming back to New York may not be that big of a lure.
Also, Bird seems to have her choice of post-playing days opportunities. In her offseason, she has worked in the front office of the Denver Nuggets. Bird has television experience and could also join the ranks of the media. She has also recently launched a female-focused media platform and may want to go into business full-time.
And then there’s that long-standing rumor that Geno Auriemma is going to retire and tab Bird to be his successor.
So, Bird to the Liberty is likely a long shot, but it’s still an interesting thought. Here’s some other names that the Liberty likely will look at:
Sandy Brondello — She’s the logical front-runner if the Liberty decide to go the conventional route. Brondello was also fired on Monday, despite just having led Phoenix to the NBA Finals in October. (Yes, the timing is odd.) Brondello has lots of playoff experience and a reputation for developing talent. As the Australian national team coach, she also has connections with Liberty players Rebecca Allen and Sami Whitcomb.
Teresa Weatherspoon — One of the most popular players in Liberty history, "Spoon" has plenty of coaching experience on a variety of levels. She coached Louisiana Tech, her alma mater, from 2009-2014. She worked with the Liberty both as an assistant and in the front office, and she is now an assistant coach with the New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA.
Becky Hammon — A long-time assistant with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, Hammon is the least likely candidate. It’s long been assumed that Hammon would be the first woman to be a head coach in the NBA. Yet, after multiple head coaching interviews and no NBA job offers, Hammon might be enticed — with a lot of money — to go in another direction.