Sue Bird says ‘winning is more important’ than money

Sue Bird is joining Gotham FC's ownership group. (Joshua Huston/NBAE via Getty Images)

Sue Bird confirmed Tuesday during a news conference that she is returning for her 19th year with the Seattle Storm for the league veteran’s minimum of $72,141. Bird says being a part of a championship contender means “everything” to her.

“That’s why I play,” she said. “That’s the motivator always. Nothing really matters outside of that. While money is amazing and of course we all want to be in a workplace that rewards you in those ways… there are going to be other rewards — some monetary, some otherwise.

“I’d rather be on a team that has a chance to win if it means that the money has to get spread in a different way. That was really the motivation behind going to the franchise and having conversations around what my salary was going to be because that was the priority.”

It was previously reported that Bird had been willing to take less money in previous seasons. It became a necessity this year in order for the Storm to keep Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart – who were both eligible for the supermax. Bird’s pay cut also helped the team sign guard Briann January and acquire Gabby Williams from the Los Angeles Sparks.

“At the end of the day, the winning is more important to me and being on a good team,” Bird said. “And if that means, in order to get other players, we needed money to go elsewhere, I was on board for that. I’ve been on board for that for the past three seasons.”

Bird isn’t the only one to take a pay cut this season. According to Rachel Galligan, Tina Charles signed a one-year contract for $108,000 with the Phoenix Mercury after leading the league in scoring last season with the Washington Mystics.

The Storm guard said that it “happens everywhere in sports.”

“You see it all the time. No superteam is made without somebody taking less than their market value. That’s just the reality of sports. It’s probably magnified in our world because the money is less.”

But, she joked, she won’t be picking up the dinner tab anymore.

“Diner is on the young bucks now,” she said.