Sue Bird, 40, is widely recognised as one of the greatest players in the history of women’s basketball and has already picked up four Olympic gold medals over the course of her stellar career, winning with Team USA in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016.
She will be gunning for a fifth in Tokyo this summer, an accolade to round off a glorious international reign that has also seen her win four FIBA World Cups in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 and become the most decorated basketball player, male or female, in the entire history of the sport.
Bird has spent the majority of her playing career at club level as a point guard with Seattle Storm in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), although she has also completed spells in Russia with Dynamo Moscow, Spartak Moscow Region and UMMC Ekaterinburg.
Emerging as a college basketball star at the turn of the millennium, Bird won two NCAA Championships with the University of Connecticut Huskies in 2000 and 2002 before being drafted by the Storm and winning a joint-record four WNBA championships in 2004, 2010, 2018 and 2020.
Born in Syosset, Nassau County, on Long Island in New York on 16 October 1980, Bird is of Russian-Jewish ancestry and holds joint US-Israeli citizenship.
She was inspired to take up sport by the example of her athletic older sister Jennifer at a young age and also played football and tennis and took part in track and field events as a student.
Bird enrolled at Christ the King Regional High School in Queens as a teenager and won both the state championship and national title in her second season with the school’s girls’ basketball team, the Royals, which went undefeated in 1997/98.
She was named New York State Player of the Year, The New York Daily News Player of the Year and WBCA All-American for her exploits on the court before joining the University of Connecticut and becoming a major force in the game.
Reflecting on her long dominance at the close of last season as the Seattle Storm zeroed-in on yet another title, Bird told the AP: “Through my career I’m lucky in a way. My position and how I play it allows for longevity. I never really relied on my physical quickness or speed or size, obviously. So as long as I continue to add to my game from a mental perspective, I was always going to be able to stay on the floor. Assuming, again, the physical part stayed with me as well.”
Her coach Gary Kloppenburg took the same opportunity to express his admiration: “She’s at another level right now, running the team. [She is] one of those players who can see a play or two ahead… It is remarkable to see her orchestrate out there. Things come easy for our team when she’s moving the ball.”
Sue Bird in action for Seattle Storm
Away from basketball, Sue Bird is the partner of Team USA football superstar Megan Rapinoe, 36, who will also be competing with the national side at the Tokyo Games.
Rapinoe gained international attention during the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France when she used her platform to attack then-US president Donald Trump after she was recorded saying she was “not going to the f***ing White House” in the event her side won the tournament (they did) and urged her teammates to “think hard” about accepting any accolades from his disastrous administration.
One of the most admired power couples in world sport, Bird and Rapinoe announced their engagement on 30 October 2020 – an important month for Bird and the reason she has worn the number 10 jersey throughout her career.
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