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Sue Bird jersey retirement: Storm great ‘will forever miss’ basketball

Seattle Storm great Sue Bird watches her jersey rise into the rafters during her jersey retirement ceremony. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Seattle Storm great Sue Bird had her jersey retired Sunday in a nearly three-hour long ceremony after the Storm’s 71-65 loss to the Washington Mystics.

Bird, the No. 1 pick in the 2002 WNBA Draft, played 19 seasons in the league — all with the Storm. The 13-time WNBA All-Star — a league record — led the Storm to four titles and retired as the all-time league leader in assists (3,234).

And now, her No. 10 will forever hang in the rafters of Climate Pledge Arena. Bird became one of two WNBA legends to have her jersey retired Sunday, along with Minnesota Lynx great Sylvia Fowles.

“I’ve got to give my sister the ‘line of the night’ award,” Bird quipped to the media afterward. “I walked in the back with my family. I was like, ‘Was that too long?’ My sister was like, ‘You played here for 21 years. They can listen to you for an hour.'”

Bird’s speech lasted nearly an hour and a half, with a lot of ground for her to cover.

“I didn’t anticipate it being that long, but the truth is, I don’t know that I could have taken anything out,” Bird said. “That’s what this has meant to me. It was just so important for me to say names and point people out and tell them what they’ve meant. I’m already thinking of things I wish I would have said.”

A number of others also spoke about Bird’s impact on Seattle, including longtime Storm teammate Lauren Jackson, who flew in from Australia and called her “the true GOAT.” The teammates’ jerseys will hang right next to each other after the Storm retired Jackson’s No. 15 jersey in 2016.

“Sue’s legacy to Seattle, to (USA Basketball), to the WNBA and to our beautiful game is one that I don’t think will ever be matched by anyone,” Jackson said. In addition to her career in Seattle, Bird also won five Olympic gold medals (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2021), one of just two USA Basketball players to do so.

“The one thing I really wish I would have said — it just kind of escaped me — was how amazing it’s going to be in the rafters, yes, but it’s going to be even more amazing to be next to her,” Bird said.

Bird’s longtime partner Megan Rapinoe co-hosted the event with Seattle rapper Macklemore. The USWNT star congratulated Bird on “arguably the best career that anyone has ever had in the history of any sport ever.”

And while Bird returned for one final season in 2022, there aren’t any plans to pull a Tom Brady and make a surprise return.

“I will forever miss it, and that’s OK,” she said. “I think some people try to avoid missing it when they’re in my seat up here, and the reality is I’m always going to miss it. There’s going to be be days — tomorrow, a year from now, five years from now — where I’ll probably even cry because I miss it and get emotional because I miss it. That’s just a part of it.”