Two weeks ago, Sue Bird carved out 20 minutes in her busy schedule for an interview to speak about her fifth trip to the Summer Olympics, which began with Friday’s Opening Ceremony. We’ve chatted like this repeatedly within the past, including in 2016 before she traveled to the Rio Games, where she won a fourth Olympic trophy and met U.S. women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe.
Five years later, they return to the Summer Games because of the couple at the Olympics. So, the thought was to talk with Bird about her fiancée Rapinoe, what motivates the Storm star, who is pursuing a record fifth straight Olympic trophy, and what makes the Tokyo Games special from the remainder . But then, midway through the interview she casually says: “This is certainly my last Olympics. That’s needless to say. I can confidently say that.” Wait … what? The words spill over so nonchalantly, and therefore the Storm star is surprised why anybody would be surprised by her admission. “I think it’s time,” Bird said. “I think there’s a spread of reasons if that creates sense. But I’m done.”
At face value, perhaps it’s not so shocking that the 40-year-old Bird, who is that the oldest player within the WNBA, plans to retire from the Olympic competition following the Tokyo Games. The bird was noncommittal about returning with the U.S. women’s national team for the 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup in Sydney, Australia. And when the conversation shifted to her future with the Storm beyond the 2021 season, she gave a version of the patented response that she’s delivered for nearly a decade, which goes: “I’ll need to hear my body and if I’m healthy and able, then why wouldn’t I play?”
But when it involves the Olympics, Bird repeatedly affirmed that this may be the last time she suits up within the red, white, and blue. To those within Bird’s clique, it’s not a secret. She’s shared her plans with Rapinoe, relations, and friends. However, keep together with her team-first personality, the last item Bird wants to try to do is to require any focus far away from the mission at hand, which is Team USA’s bid for a seventh straight trophy.
So Bird hasn’t spoken publicly about this being the top of her Olympic career. a couple of her U.S. women’s basketball teammates, including Storm star Jewell Loyd, said Bird has not told the team about her plans to retire from the Olympic competition. “I don’t talk tons about it because that’s not what the story must be,” Bird said. “That’s only one element thereto all. We still need to go there and look out of business. But I can’t imagine playing in another Olympics.” In some ways, it’s difficult to imagine a world where the seemingly ageless and indomitable Sue Bird, who has dunked on Father Time, isn’t playing basketball on the most important stage within the sport.
“Once you hit 40, three years are like dog years,” said Bird who would be 43 before the 2024 Paris Games. “What’s dog years? (Multiplied by) seven? I forget. So, it’s 21 years away. I just feel that I’m during a place to mention this is often my last Olympics.” For the past 20 years, Bird, who is arguably the best point guard in women’s basketball history, has been synonymous with three basketball teams. After winning NCAA titles in 2000 and 2002 at the University of Connecticut, the previous No. 1 overall WNBA draft pick collected four league championships with the Storm in 2004, 2010, 2018, and 2020. However, Bird’s tenure with USA Basketball has been the foremost dominant during a career that will send her to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.