Before Sue Bird could get the ball in during her final game in Seattle on Sunday, she felt a tap on her right arm.
The WNBA legend twisted his head to find a girl giving her a flower. Bird smiled, acknowledging the gift, before putting the ball in play.
The girl kept the flower on the sidelines, while Bird backed off on the hardwood, allowing what could be his final moments in Seattle to continue to melt away.
Despite a heartbreaking loss to the Aces, who beat the Storm 89-81, Bird said she felt at peace that Sunday’s game could be the last time she steps onto the pitch at the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle.
After announcing in June that the 2022 season would be his final campaign, this summer has been a retirement tour for Bird, 41, who became the WNBA’s all-time leader in assists during his 20 years in Seattle and established herself as a trailblazer in the WNBA.
Her “special day” may not have been perfect because of the loss. But Bird told a sold-out crowd of fans that while he didn’t have a “Mamba Out” moment, unlike Kobe Bryant in his last 60-point game, it was still worth it to the end.
“I’m not going to lie, it sucks to lose my last game,” Bird told the crowd. “But you know what, I also lost my first match. So that’s okay.”
Even with the loss, the Storm will play in a reorganized WNBA playoffs that may not allow Bird to return to Seattle – unless they retain their fourth seed. And as Bird plays her final three regular-season games away from Seattle, she views Sunday not as a mere honor for her, but as something more.
“It was really amazing,” Bird said of Sunday’s game. “But I think it’s really, really a celebration of Storm basketball because I’m kind of a Storm basketball.”
With pole wires
New York Post