The legendary WNBA career of Sue Bird is nearing its end, and she’ll play one of her last regular-season games in the state she had so much success in.
Bird began her basketball career in her hometown of Syosset, New York before heading to the University of Connecticut from 1998 to 2002. She won two NCAA National Championships during her time with the Huskies.
This season has been bittersweet for the 41-year-old. The Storm have just eight regular-season games remaining, with the first being their final matchup against the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena on Thursday.
The last time the two teams met was back on June 17 when the Sun came out on top 82-71 in the back-and-forth game. Bird had 14 points, four assists and two steals on the night.
Bird has accomplished so much over the course of her lengthy career between her time at UConn and in the WNBA. She is the WNBA’s all-time assist leader, a four-time WNBA Champion (2004, 2010, 2018 and 2020) and the only WNBA player to participate in 500 games.
“There certainly isn’t anything that Sue left undone or to prove,” UConn women’s basketball head coach Geno Auriemma told reporters, per the Hartford Courant. “There’s going to be a lot of stories written and comparisons made about her and everything she’s done. It really is no exaggeration to say, I don’t think in our lifetime of watching basketball, that we’ve seen anyone play that position at a higher level and for a longer period of time than Sue has.”
Auriemma speaks so highly of someone he coached both in college and as a part of USA basketball. How he talks about Bird highlights the impact she has had on the game of women’s basketball.
Bird, who always looks forward to playing in Connecticut and New York, expressed why those are the games she makes note of every year when the WNBA schedule is released.
“When the schedule comes out, there are two games I circle mentally, the New York game and the Connecticut game, and that’s because they feel like homecomings,” Bird told reporters, per the Hartford Courant. “I know that I am going to get the support, I know I am going to be able to play in front of people that really watched me grow up and that’s really special to me.”
Bird’s final homecoming matchup against the New York Liberty took place June 19 when she was honored for her career. She hit a 3-pointer toward the end of the Storm’s win over the Liberty, and the crowd gave her a well-deserved standing ovation.
It’s likely Connecticut will give her a warm welcome and bittersweet farewell just like New York did. It should be a great game, given that when the Storm faces the Sun, it’s usually close and very entertaining to watch.
You can catch Thursday’s game at 7 p.m. ET on NESN+ to see Bird play one last time where it all started.