Baird, the league’s chief professional assistant, broke the official news on social media, writing, “Loved every minute and still do, I’m going to play my last year just like this little girl played her first.”
Ranked #1 in 2002, Bird played her entire career with Storm, winning four championships, five All-WNBA First Team selections, and racking up a record 12 All-Star Game appearances.
Bird won championships at all levels, most notably five Olympic gold medals in basketball with Team USA. She was also a member of four world champion teams and multiple title-winning teams in the Russian Pro League and Euroleague. In college, she won two NCAA championships at the University of Connecticut. She also won a national title at Christ The King High School in New York, according to the WNBA website.
His teammate Richanda Gray tweeted, “Thanks for paving the way!! We will really miss you. I am forever gray! @S10Bird.”
The team wrote, “Soo Bird is a Basketball Storm.”
Bird, 41, told reporters that she felt like she had played at a very high level both physically and mentally for as long as possible.
She said she looks forward to the things the basketball season takes away from the player, noting that she doesn’t have to set an alarm for early morning rehearsals and can take real vacations unattended next year. But she will miss the “crunch” moments — the hard workouts and tough travel schedule — because you “still do it with a team,” she added.
Bird said her hope is to find something that satisfies her in this way, but she knows it will be hard to replace the things that are part of life as a professional athlete. Referring to an ESPN show she did with Diana Torassi during the Final Four, she rudely said, “Maybe that’s going to be a thing.”
When asked if the ad represented a happy or sad day, she said it was a mix.
“Not a lot of people do something like athletes all their lives,” she said, noting that it was the end of her athletic career that began when she was five or six years old. Looking forward to retirement, she says she was excited and: “I’m going to start this new life.”
Bird The Storm has been leading in assists this season (6.6 per game) and is expected to return to the field on Friday when Seattle faces the Connecticut Sun on the road. On Sunday, he visits The Storm Liberty, which will be the final match for the Birds in their New York hometown.
CNN’s Jacob Leaf contributed to this report.
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