Bird is back: Sue Bird finally re-signs with Seattle Storm

SEATTLE (AP) — Sue Bird officially re-signed Friday with the Seattle Storm, her only WNBA team, in what is expected to be her final season.

Bird, the WNBA’s assists leader and the league’s oldest player at 41, previously announced she would return for one more season. She waited until Seattle had recently completed its offseason maneuvers — including the return of Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart — before signing her deal.

Terms were not disclosed. The WNBA supermax salary for 2022 is $228,094. Bird is a four-time WNBA champion with Seattle. Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, a four-time NBA champion, will earn an estimated $41 million this season.

Bird, of Syosset, New York, helped lead Connecticut to two NCAA titles and was Seattle’s first pick in the 2002 WNBA Draft. The 2022 season will be Bird’s 21st overall with the franchise, but she missed the 2014 and 2019 seasons due to injury.

“It’s rare for someone to play their entire career for one team and Sue has done that for our city, our franchise and our fans,” Seattle general manager Talisa Rhea said in a statement. “Having Sue lead the franchise back home in the city of Seattle and Climate Pledge Arena is extremely special.”

For several years, Bird said she would assess how long she wanted to play each year. She won a record fifth gold medal with the United States at the Tokyo Olympics last summer. Seattle, playing without an injured Stewart, was ousted a few months later in the second round of the WNBA playoffs by Phoenix. Bird was celebrated with chants of “one more year” by the local crowd.

The 12-time All-Star selection said those chants stuck with them and helped motivate her to play another season. She also expressed excitement about performing at the new Seattle arena after spending the 2019 and 2021 seasons at venues in the Puget Sound area. The 2020 season took place in the WNBA bubble in Florida due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bird averaged 10 points and 5.3 assists last season. She also averaged nearly 28 minutes, her highest tally since 2017.

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