SEATTLE — Seattle Storm legend Sue Bird said in a tweet Thursday morning this will be the last season of her 19-year WNBA career.
"I’ve decided this will be my final year," Bird said in the tweet. "I have loved every single minute, and still do, so gonna play my last year, just like this little girl played her first."
Bird's announcement ended speculation about her future after she re-signed for another season in February.
"I just really felt strongly about announcing my retirement, saying it was my last year so I can share that with my family and my friends, all the people in New York who have watched me growing up so they can come and see me play for the last time in my home state," Bird said in a video tweeted by the Storm. "So I’m excited about that. It’s also bittersweet.”
In a tweet moments before Bird's announcement, the Seattle Storm said "Sue Bird is Storm basketball. Every moment, every memory has one constant. No. 10. It’s time for the final chapter.”
The longtime Storm guard hinted in February that this could be her last season. After the Storm was eliminated by the Phoenix Mercury in the 2021 playoffs, the home fans clamored for Bird's return, chanting "one more year."
Bird said that moment resonated with her. Within a few days, she called her trainer and decided to start preparing to play in 2022.
“The fans chanted and I think it just gave me this whole other perspective on things,” Bird said. “I never thought this was just about me, but that really made me realize this decision is not just about me.”
Bird, the WNBA's all-time leader in assists (3,114) and starts (559), is the only player to appear in over 500 career games. She has scored or assisted on 27.5% of every basket scored in Storm franchise history, including the four seasons she didn't play.
Bird has been a mainstay in the organization since she was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 WNBA draft. She has never played for another team in her career.
"This is where I finally found my true self and I'm finally living in that," Bird said, regarding her time in Seattle. "I know all the wonderful things that come with that have happened to me and it’s really been a wonderful experience in that way."
The four-time WNBA champion (2004, 2010, 2018, 2020) is averaging 11.9 points, 5.6 assists, 2.6 rebounds per game and 42.9 percent shooting for her career.
"I think what I'm most proud of is I've been on four different winning teams in the WNBA over the course of the 20 years I've played," Bird said in an exclusive interview with KING 5 in May. "That more than anything speaks to my longevity."
The 41-year-old guard and oldest player in the league has made 12 WNBA All-Star teams and been a first-team All-WNBA selection five times in her career.
Her international success puts her in rarefied air, too. She's a five-time Olympic gold medalist (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020), making her just the sixth player in history to win a NCAA Championship, a WNBA Championship and an Olympic gold medal.
In 2021, Bird was named to the WNBA's W25 team, which recognized the 25 greatest players in league history.
Bird is also known for her work in the community, serving as a role model for aspiring female athletes.
“(Northwest Basketball Magic Co-Founder) Vanessa (McClendon) and I have been doing this a long time, but so has Sue," said Edwina Martin-Arnold, co-founder of Northwest Basketball Magic, a program that prepares girls to excel at the collegiate and professional levels. "Sue was doing that before it was a popular thing to do. She was giving back to the community and being a role model and something to aspire to for our girls.”
McClendon and Martin-Arnold said they're big fans of Bird and the Storm and would take their athletes to Storm games to let them see what's possible. The girls even got to meet their idol in 2013 when Bird showed up at a Northwest Magic camp.
“Sue giving us access to her made a roadmap for other players that are gonna do the same thing she does and maybe add to that for the next generation," said McClendon. "So it’s important to be able to see it and touch it.”
The Storm are 9-5 this season, good for second in the Western Conference. Bird has started in 10 games, averaging 7.8 points and 6.6 assists per game.