Almost everywhere Caitlin Clark plays, fans flock to the arena to see her. Clark’s scoring ability and flashy but easy playing style draw crowds to women’s basketball games across the country.

And sometimes, those crowds contain recognizable faces. 

Sitting courtside during Iowa’s game against Bowling Green were WNBA icon Sue Bird and Jason Sudeikis, star of sports TV show “Ted Lasso.” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder called the tandem “the best player and the best coach in America,” referencing Sudeikis’ titular role as a fish-out-of-water Premier League manager.

Bird and Sudeikis stopped in Iowa after attending a men’s basketball game at Kansas together. After the game, Bird and Sudeikis met the Hawkeyes in their locker room, where Sudiekis signed a “Believe” poster, another reference to “Ted Lasso.”

The basketball legend Bird has previously praised Clark’s playing style and her ability to gather an audience. 

“I mean, it’s jaw-dropping. It’s eye-popping,” Bird told the Wall Street Journal. “It makes you take note of those moments.”

Megan Rapinoe underwent surgery to repair the torn Achilles tendon in her right leg, she and OL Reign announced Wednesday.

The longtime U.S. women’s national team and OL Reign forward sustained the injury early in the 2023 NWSL Championship, which also was the final match of her storied career.

“I wasn’t overly emotional about it,” Rapinoe said after OL Reign’s 2-1 loss to Gotham FC. “I mean, f—ing yeeted my Achilles in the sixth minute in my last game ever in the literal championship game.”

Her former USWNT teammate Christen Press, though, couldn’t hold back her own emotions while watching the game at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego, as Tobin Heath shared on the latest episode of their podcast, “The RE-CAP Show.”

“I was looking around trying to see if the stadium was processing what was happening,” Heath said. “And I looked over you and you were crying. And it was such a complicated moment of feelings.”

“We just were not ready for the end to come right at the beginning,” Press said. “And when I texted Pinoe after the game, I told her: Three tears hit the floor. That’s what happened, three giant, real tears hit the floor underneath my shoes.

“And you know what I thought? I thought, those aren’t tears of pity. She’s too important. She’s had too big of a career. She’s had too much success and joy playing this sport for us to have pity. That would be a disservice to the legacy that she’s leaving.

“And the tears fell from my face with love and pride to be able to have shared the field and the locker room with someone who has had such a long-lasting impact and will continue to have that long-lasting impact.”

Rapinoe handled the injury with grace during the championship match, even as her teammates and opponents spoke of their devastation on her behalf. And that continued as she began her recovery.

“Surgery a success. Home, resting, being taken care of,” she wrote on Instagram, tagging her fiancée Sue Bird. “Thank you for all the love, well wishes and good vibes sent my way.”

Sue Bird is welcoming fiancée Megan Rapinoe into retirement with open arms.

Rapinoe played in her final professional soccer game in Saturday’s 2023 NWSL Championship. The OL Reign star exited after just six minutes with a suspected Achilles injury in the 1-0 loss to Gotham FC, and her teammates and opponents alike called the turn of events “devastating” for the soccer legend.

“I just feel so gutted for her. Honestly, I never thought that would ever happen,” fellow retiree and Gotham captain Ali Krieger said. “And I feel so sad because you know football is such a risk, right? And you never know if it’s going to be your last game, your last moment.

“And to happen to such an incredible player, in that moment … It just is so sad and I feel for her and I’m gonna be there every step of the way for her recovery. … And I never wanted that to happen because I wanted to celebrate with her at the end.”

Bird, who has been in a relationship with Rapinoe since 2017, retired from professional basketball last year as one of the greatest players in WNBA history. In a post on Instagram Stories, the Seattle Storm great welcomed Rapinoe into retirement.

“Cheer to you, baby! To an unbelievable career, to all you’ve accomplished, and to all the lives you’ve impacted along the way,” she wrote. “It’s not how you wanted it to end. It’s not how any of us wanted it to end, but the truth is a legacy like yours has no ending.

“Even though you’re saying goodbye to the game, you’ll be saying hello to a whole lot more and that legacy will just continue to grow. Congratulations and welcome to retirement!! I’ve been waiting for you.”

Sue Bird needs a new jersey.

The 2023 NWSL Championship final features a conflict of interests for the WNBA legend. Her partner Megan Rapinoe plays for OL Reign. But she also is a co-owner of NJ/NY Gotham FC and close friends with team captain Ali Krieger. Both Rapinoe and Krieger will be playing in the final match of their careers.

So naturally, that makes things interesting for Bird. Who does she root for? The team for which her longtime partner plays? Or the team in which she quite literally has a vested interest?

While the ideal outcome for Bird might be a draw, that isn’t a possibility in the winner-take-all match. But Bird is still looking to play down the middle. She took to Instagram on Monday to ask if anyone has a plug for a dual jersey.

“Anyone got the plug on a Donna Kelce type jersey?” she wrote, tagging both Rapinoe and Krieger – as well as Travis and Jason Kelce.

Donna Kelce, of course, is the now-famous mother of NFL stars Travis and Jason. Travis stars for the Kansas City Chiefs at tight end, while Jason is a center for the Philadelphia Eagles.

The two played against one another in the Super Bowl earlier this year, prompting Donna to wear a jersey that had Travis’ number on the front and Jason’s on the back. She also wore a jacket that was split down the middle with her two sons’ numbers and team logos and their last name written across the back.

Here’s to hoping Bird can get a similar hookup for Saturday’s final, which kicks off at 8 p.m. ET at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego. The NWSL appears to be on the case, having written, “LET THE BIRD BOWL BEGIN! We’re already on it, @S10Bird!”

Ali Krieger played in her final NWSL regular-season game Sunday for Gotham FC, and the retiring defender received love from across the women’s sports landscape.

Both Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird rocked “Ali Krieger Fan Club” T-shirts from separate sporting events – Rapinoe ahead of her own final NWSL regular-season game for OL Reign, and Bird from her courtside seat at the WNBA Finals.

Krieger saved her own game – and her club’s season – with a ball she cleared off the goal line. Her 30-yard recovery to make the play kept Kansas City from taking a 3-2 lead, and the match ended at 2-2, securing a crucial standings point.

Gotham FC is the No. 6 seed for the NWSL playoffs. They will face the North Carolina Courage at 7 p.m. ET Sunday in the quarterfinal round.

“I just wanted to give everything, and I felt like I did that,” Krieger said of Sunday’s match. “I’m just so proud of the complete performance. … My career’s not finished just yet, we have one more game to go and I’m really excited for what’s next.”

She also spoke on playing for Gotham FC the last two seasons, saying she has felt so “fulfilled and rewarded” in her time with the club.

“It’s been incredible the past two seasons. You’re playing with such great players, such incredible human beings,” she said. “We have each other’s back and we’re continuing that journey together. We said at the beginning of the year we wanted to be on that podium and lift that trophy. I know that the team, our mindset is right there, mentality is right there. The principles and everything, everyone’s bought into that. … We’re going in the right direction but obviously the job’s not done.”

Rapinoe, who played on the U.S. women’s national team with Krieger, also took to Instagram to applaud her former teammate.

“How to even put into words my dear, this incredible career you have had,” she wrote on Instagram stories. “There are far too many moments to start naming but your 100 caps, your World Cup final 2019. And mostly all the f–ks you have not given and ALLLLL the f–ks you did not give. I love you forever sweetie, you are truly one of a kind. An original, simply you Kriegy.

“Enjoy this beautiful day, soak it all the love that is coming your energy way. Lord knows you deserve it all.”

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.”

A total of 40 professional, Olympic and Paralympic athletes signed a letter opposing a transgender sports ban under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives.

U.S. women’s national team veterans Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn and retired WNBA star Sue Bird are among the athletes to lend their names and support to the letter, which was sent Monday to House of Representatives legislative directors.

The letter, which was organized by advocacy group Athlete Ally, calls out HR 734, a Republican-led bill that would ban transgender and intersex girls and women from competing in sports around the country.

“As professional, Olympic and Paralympic athletes, we have dedicated our lives to sports. Sports have given us our greatest friends, taught us incredible life lessons, and given us the confidence and drive to succeed in the world,” the letter reads. “Every single child should have access to the lifesaving power of sports.”

So far, 20 states have enacted laws that ban transgender athletes from competing in sports.

“We believe that gender equity in sport is critical, which is why we urge policymakers to turn their attention and effort to the causes women athletes have been fighting for decades, including equal pay, an end to abuse and mistreatment, uneven implementation of Title IX, and a lack of access and equity for girls of color and girls with disabilities, to name only a few,” the letter reads. “Our deepest hope is that transgender and intersex kids will never have to feel the isolation, exclusion and othering that H.R. 734 is seeking to enshrine into law.”

Just last week, the Biden administration proposed new guidelines that would prevent an “outright ban” on transgender athletes in school sports, though it would allow schools to limit their participation in certain circumstances.

Becky Sauerbrunn spoke out against transgender sports bans under consideration in her home state of Missouri, where the USWNT will face Ireland at 7:30 p.m. ET Tuesday.

“The bills up for discussion in the Senate this week seek to solve a problem that simply doesn’t exist, and instead are sidelining youth from an outlet that brings them joy, connection and purpose,” Sauerbrunn wrote in the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader.

UConn women’s basketball legend Sue Bird already looms large in Huskies history. Still, junior guard Nika Mühl gained a deeper admiration for Bird as she broke her single-season assists record.

With her seven assists in Monday’s 60-51 win against Xavier, Mühl has 236 assists and counting this season for No. 9 UConn (26-5). She surpassed Bird’s program record of 231, set in the 2001-02 season.

“Honestly, like, this is tough to do and I respect her even more for what she did,” Mühl said. “It means a lot. … I never understood how tough it is.”

While Mühl did not hit double-digits in assists Monday, she has had 10 or more assists in a program-record nine games this season. She is averaging 7.9 assists per game.

Mühl broke Bird’s record in the regular-season finale for her team, but she still has the Big East and the NCAA tournament to add to her total. Still, even as she inked her name in the Huskies’ history books, Mühl deflected praise for her accomplishment.

“I really like this group of people, my teammates, and I feel like it means even more because it’s kind of like a team award,” she said. “You know, assists, you have to pass but somebody has to make the basket. So, I feel like it’s kind of like a team award, which gives it so much more importance when I think about it.”

With Paige Bueckers out for the season with an ACL tear, Mühl has taken on a larger role in the UConn offense as the starting point guard.

“I think she’s had an incredible year,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “That’s kind of indicative of who our team is, you know, Nika’s our identity. She’s the one that drives us.”

As WNBA free agency begins and the conversation around the destination of some key free agents heats up, Breanna Stewart’s future team remains in question.

On the most recent episode of Real Ones with Raja + Logan, Stewart’s longtime Seattle Storm teammate Sue Bird addressed her potential move. In doing so, she says that money isn’t the largest factor in Stewart’s decision making.

“Seattle currently can pay Stewie more than New York can, unless she did a sign and trade. But the money, the margin is like, 20 or 30 thousand dollars. So it’s not millions,” Stewart said on the podcast. “And so right out of the gate money is not a player. Why? Because Stewie goes overseas, because Stewie has marketing deals that are paying her far more than her WNBA salary.

“Stewie can now look at other things and New York is New York. She’s from Syracuse, which obviously is not New York City, but it makes a difference. It’s closer. Her wife is from Spain. It’s closer. She has a family now. Your priorities and what you need from a team start to shift and change because money is not the only thing at play.

“If Seattle could offer Stewie five more million than New York, I think we’re having a different conversation.”

The conversations around WNBA free agency are starting to grow, particularly as teams like New York appear to be building “Super Teams.” Just a few days ago, they traded for Jonquel Jones, the 2021 WNBA MVP. Reports have also indicated that both Stewart and Chicago Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot would like to play together.

Bird thinks that part of the reason these potential teams are coming together is because of the nature of the women’s game.

“The interesting thing is, because we play overseas together so much we’re around a lot of different players, with a lot of downtime. And I think that’s where super teams are going to get formed,” she said, noting that players are having conversations about their contracts and where they want to play.

“I think we are going to see it more and more, just because those conversations are now happening.”

Part of the reason those conversations are happening, Bird says, is because the league is able to pay players more money. But also, the rules have changed with the most recent CBA.

“For a long time, there wasn’t enough money. The rules were set up in a way where there wasn’t a lot of movement to be had,” Bird said. “People were getting core’d like three, four, five, six times in their career, taking away all opportunity to leave if they wanted to. That has changed. A lot of the rules have changed. The money [has changed].

“Now it’s set up in a way where you can consider things like market, market size, and eyeballs. You can start to consider those things whereas before it wasn’t really a player. There was nothing to be gained whether you were in New York or Indiana, it didn’t really matter. Now it matters. Now it’s a thing.”

The Seattle Storm will retire Sue Bird’s No. 10 jersey on Sunday, June 11, during a game against the Washington Mystics, the team announced Thursday.

Bird, who retired at the end of last season, played 19 seasons with the Storm after they drafted her out of UConn in 2002.

Bird finished her career as the all-time league leaded in assists. Her total of 3,234 beats the next closest player, Ticha Penicheiro, by more than 600.

Her impact on the Seattle franchise was immense. She was drafted two years after the Storm came into existence, and she assisted on 27.5% of the baskets scored in franchise history. She also won four WNBA championships with the team.

Bird is the only player in WNBA history to play in at least 500 games, finishing her career with 580, all of which were starts. 

The point guard is the second Storm player to have her number retired. Her former teammate Lauren Jackson saw her jersey raised to the rafters of Climate Pledge Arena  last season.