Sue Bird retires after 21 years in the WNBA. (Joshua Huston/NBAE via Getty Images)

Sue Bird’s 21-year WNBA career came to an end Tuesday as the Seattle Storm fell 97-92 to the Las Vegas Aces to end their season in the semifinals.

The 41-year-old guard was honored by both Storm and Aces players on the court as fans shouted out their thanks.

She ends her career as the WNBA’s all-time assists leader and all-time playoff assists leader. In the 2022 postseason, she added 46 assists to her total and committed just six turnovers through six games. She finished with eight points and eight assists in her final game Tuesday night.

“Obviously, so thankful for 20 years here. I’m gonna miss it so much. I’m not going anywhere, but I’m gonna miss it,” Bird told ESPN’s Holly Rowe on the court after the game.

“I’m so proud of this team, this year. I’m so so so proud to be a member of the Seattle Storm,” she continued. “It has been my honor to play for this franchise, to play for these fans.”

The Seattle crowd reflected that same love and admiration back to Bird, who spent her entire career with the franchise and won four WNBA titles with the Storm. The same fans who called for “One more year!” after the team’s final game in 2021 this time sent her off with chants of “Thank you Sue!”

When asked about her legacy, Bird said that she hopes the Storm can continue to win and play at the high level they established during her run.

“I just hope that the next person that comes in and plays point guard here can just keep the tradition going, keep the winning going, keep that championship level going, keep these fans happy,” she said. “I hope I made everybody in here proud.”

Bird made her way to exit the court with her teammates before reversing course. She remained on the court, receiving hugs from all the members of the Aces’ team and coaching staff. The crowd remained to their feet as Bird acknowledged them before finally making her way to the locker room.

“I didn’t really want to leave the court,” Bird said. “It felt like that’s where everybody was going, so I just followed at first. But I also wanted to kind of have one last moment to say thank you, to soak it all in, because in some ways it is a happy thing.

“I’m proud of everything we’ve accomplished here. Of course I’m sad, but there’s happiness too, to be able to have a moment like that with the fans, to have them chant the way they did. I know the tears don’t look like happy tears, but there’s a lot of happiness.”

Bird admitted that it “feels kind of weird” knowing that she played her final WNBA game. Meanwhile, her teammates, including Breanna Stewart, are still coming to terms with the idea of no longer playing with Bird.

“As sad as it is that we’re not having the ability to compete for a championship,” Stewart said, “I think what’s more devastating is the fact that we’re no longer going to be on the court with Sue. We’re not going to see her in practice, we’re not going to play with her in games. I think that’s what hurts the most — having that come to a reality really, really quickly.”

Read more: