Speaking to media in Japan (23 July) hours ahead of the greatest sports welcoming party on earth, the 40-year-old took stock of the occasion that is soon to arrive:
“It’s obviously a huge honour and a big moment and I’m so glad my team’s going to be there with me because it’s only right to celebrate and enjoy it with them.”
“I want to have fun. You know that’s what the Olympics are about. Yes, there are times to be serious and obviously there are times to focus on your mission and why you’ve come here but I think Opening ceremonies is really the one time you let loose and enjoy it.”
Diana Taurasi reveals the news
The honour of announcing the news to Bird was given to the only other four-time Olympic champion in the team - Diana Taurasi.
The 39-year-old, who will join Bird in marking a fifth Olympic Games in Tokyo, shared the news in front of the entire playing group in practice earlier this week.
The point guard reflected on the significance of the moment:
“To have her [Taurasi] be the one to share the news made it that much more special.”
“Diana could be sitting in this seat right now as someone who has easily accomplished enough, has done enough both on and off the court, to hold this honour. I feel like our Olympic experiences are so intertwined.”
“We’re obviously very good friends – best of friends – we’ve accomplished a lot on the court but really these experiences wouldn’t be the same, I know for me it wouldn’t be the same without Dee.”
Following in the footsteps of Dawn Staley
When she steps out to lead the U.S. delegation Bird will become the second member of the women’s basketball team to have the honour of bearing her country’s flag.
Bird’s predecessor? Her current head coach Dawn Staley.
The point guard revealed that Staley, who is herself proud owner of three Olympic gold medals, has even been on hand to coach her through the experience:
“Dawn just gave me the best advice possible she said, ‘listen, the flag’s not that heavy you’re going to be fine.’”
And asked whether she had yet practiced her flag waving motion, Bird smiled as she said:
“I don’t think there’s any preparing.”
Catch the Olympic Opening ceremonies as they get underway at 20:00 JST. Follow the action on here on our Live Blog.