Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird brings the ball upcourt during...

Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird brings the ball upcourt during the first half of a WNBA Commissioner's Cup game against the Connecticut Sun on Aug. 12, 2021, in Phoenix. Credit: AP / Matt York

Sue Bird’s legendary playing career is coming to an end.

The Syosset native and longtime Seattle Storm point guard announced on social media Thursday that this season — her 21st in the WNBA — would be her last.

“I’ve decided this will be my final year,” Bird wrote on her verified Twitter account. “I have loved every single minute, and still do, so gonna play my last year, just like this little girl played her first.”

Bird’s post was accompanied by two photos. One was of her and Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi, a close friend who has played with Bird on the U.S. national team and in college at Connecticut, from last season. The other photo was of Bird playing basketball as a youth.

Bird also did an interview posted on the Storm’s verified Twitter account discussing her decision to announce her retirement now. She said her announcement was timed to a trip to New York for Sunday’s game against the Liberty at Barclays Center. The game could be Bird’s last in New York, unless the teams meet in the playoffs.

“I kind of knew that this was going to be my last year, but I wanted to be for sure about it before I announced the retirement and did anything like that that was so final,” Bird said. “So as the season has gone, I pretty much knew.

“Once I saw the schedule and then once I started packing for this trip a little bit, I was like, ‘Oh, this is going to be my last time playing in New York, my last time playing in front of my family and friends.’ And so that’s why the timing of this is what it is. I just really felt strongly about announcing my retirement, saying it was my last year, so I could share that with my family and my friends, all the people in New York who’ve watched me growing up, so they could come and see play me for the last time in my home state. I’m excited about that. It’s also bittersweet, of course.”

During a news conference later on Thursday afternoon, Bird teared up more than once when discussing her career and the decision to retire.

A five-time Olympic gold medalist, four-time WNBA champion, 12-time WNBA All-Star, and two-time NCAA champion, Bird has been one of the greatest and most recognizable basketball players in the world throughout her career.

Bird’s career started at the youth level on Long Island and then at Syosset High School before she transferred to national power Christ the King in Queens. She was named the state’s player of the year as a senior at Christ the King. Bird went on to a storied career at Connecticut, winning two national titles under coach Geno Auriemma. She was the national player of the year as a senior. Connecticut was 114-4 in games Bird played in over her four-year career.

Bird, who will turn 42 in October, announced in January that she would be returning to play for the Seattle Storm — the WNBA franchise she has spent her entire career with — this season. She has played 19 seasons in the WNBA, but this is technically her 21st year. Bird missed the 2013 and 2019 seasons with injuries.

She was coming off a strong 2021 season with the Storm when she decided to play this season. Bird was named to her 12th WNBA All-Star Game and started all 30 games she played in for the Storm, averaging 10 points and 5.3 assists. She also won her fifth Olympic gold medal as the U.S. rolled in Tokyo last summer. Bird and Taurasi became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals.

Bird was the No. 1 overall pick of the Storm in 2002 and has won four WNBA titles with the franchise (2004, 2010, 2018 and 2020). Bird is Seattle’s all-time leading scorer.

She is the WNBA’s career leader in assists with 3,114. She also ranks first in games played (559), first in minutes played (17,532), second in made three-pointers (965), seventh in points (6.639), fourth in steals (700) and eighth in made field goals (2,419).

Last year, Bird was selected as one of the 25 greatest and most influential players in WNBA history.

Bird will have another homecoming stop in Connecticut on Friday night to play the Sun. She is scheduled to return to Connecticut to play the Sun — perhaps her final game in that state — on July 28.

After her playing days are over, Bird said during the news conference that she isn't sure what's next. She mentioned media opportunities as a potential next move. Bird and Taurasi teamed up for "The Bird & Taurasi Show" (BTS) on ESPN during the NCAA women's basketball tournament. Bird has also been involved with Peyton Manning's "Peyton's Places" franchise on ESPN. Bird's "Sue's Places" will explore college basketball.

"In the last couple of years, I've definitely tried to dabble in some different things outside of basketball, see what I like, see what I don't like," Bird said. "There are some things on the horizon that I can look forward to where they're talking about 'Peyton's Places,' being a part of that franchise. Maybe the BTS show becomes a thing. We'll see."

Sue Bird's impressive numbers:

21

Seasons with Seattle Storm

12

WNBA All-Star selections

5

Olympic gold medals

4

WNBA titles

2

NCAA championships at UConn

CAREER STATS (WNBA rank in parentheses)

Games 559 (1)

Minutes 17,532 (1)

Assists 3,114 (1)

Three-pointers 965 (2)

Steals 700 (4)

Points 6,639 (7)

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