Celebration Of Bird’s WNBA Record 500 Games
By Tyler Berry
Sixteen years ago, the Seattle Storm made the best decision a young basketball franchise could make. With the first overall pick in the 2002 WNBA Draft, the team selected a 5-foot, 9-inch point guard out of Connecticut by the name of Suzanne Brigit Bird – better known as Sue.
Coming off a brilliant college career that included two national championships, a Wade Trophy, and the Naismith Award for College Player of the Year, it was a given that the Syosset, N.Y. native would be taken No. 1. What has followed after that draft selection will go down in history as one of the greatest professional basketball careers of all time.
Bird was a starter from day one for Seattle, suiting up in her first pro game on May 30, 2002. Most professional athletes are lucky enough to have a fraction of the career that she’s had. It’s a career that has seen her play in four Summer Olympics, four presidential elections, and perhaps most surprisingly, seven The Fast and the Furious movies. But it all started with that first game against New York back in May of 2002. Here’s what else was going on that day:
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones sat atop the box office.
“Foolish” by Ashanti was in its sixth week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
Brendan Shanahan and the Detroit Red Wings forced a Western Conference final Game 7 against the Colorado Avalanche.
The boxing world was gearing up for a Mike Tyson-Lennox Lewis bout the next week.
The New Jersey Nets had a 3-2 series lead over the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals.
It was reported that Pat Tillman – the Arizona Cardinals safety – would enlist in the U.S. Army.
It was a different time in the United States, one rife with fear, uncertainty, and an unmistakable bond between Americans, the likes of which we certainly haven’t seen recently. Yet, what was at the forefront of Bird’s mind was having a rookie season to remember. She did just that as she averaged 14.4 points and six assists, was the runner-up for Rookie of the Year, and was selected as a starter on the Western Conference All-Star team.
Two years later, she was a WNBA champion. Oh, and a gold medal winner in Athens.
A year after that, she was the WNBA’s assist leader for the first of three times.
In 2010, it was another WNBA championship as well as an All-WNBA Second Team selection.
In 2011 she was an All-Star, Second Team, voted one of the WNBA’s Top 15 Players of All Time.
In 2016 she was chosen All-WNBA First Team, Assists Leader and Peak Performer.
Sixteen years, 500 games, 6,069 points, 2,775 assists, 1,249 rebounds, 643 steals, 2 WNBA championships, 11 All-Star appearances, 5 All-WNBA First Team and 3 All-WNBA Second Team selections.
You get the picture. Her accomplishments in the basketball world are spectacular. She’s done everything that kids grow up dreaming about while shooting hoops in their driveway. And she’s done it all while being an inspiration to others, both on the basketball court and in the LGBTQ community. It’s no wonder why she received such a wonderful ovation throughout the league and the media for her most recent accomplishment. As a player, a mentor, a leader and a person, there are few that rival Sue Bird.
She’s 500 games in and has proven that countless times. So, here’s hoping she’s got another 100 games in her, because no doubt she’ll prove it again.