At 40 years old, Sue Bird will likely be a part of Team USA’s squad for Tokyo in what would be her fifth Olympic Games, having previously won gold with the U.S. women’s national team at Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016.
With Bird’s legacy as a basketball player and professional athlete ‘already written’ (as Bird herself has stated), take a look at some of the facts, stats, and stories that make the WNBA All-Star a bonafide legend of the sport.
Her love of basketball started at an early age
Suzanne Brigit Bird was born in Syosset, New York, and fell in love with basketball after attending a New York Knicks game aged just six.
She had a diverse interest in multiple sports growing up (including football and athletics), thanks in large part to the influence of her older sister Jennifer, and Bird credits her for getting started in basketball.
Bird has won at every level
There aren't many basketball players who have won championships at the high school, collegiate, Olympic and professional level - let alone winning silverware in multiple countries - but Bird is not like most players.
The American-Israeli won the New York state championship as a student at Christ the King Regional High School in Queens, New York, and has only added to her trophy cabinet since:
- Two-time NCAA champion (2000, 2002) with the University of Connecticut
- Four-time WNBA champion (2004, 2010, 2018, 2020) with the Seattle Storm
- Five-time Russian National League champion (2007, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014)
- Five-time EuroLeague champion (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013)
- Two-time Europe SuperCup winner (2009, 2010)
- Four-time FIBA World Cup champion with Team USA (2002, 2010, 2014, 2018)
- Four-time Olympic gold medalist with Team USA (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016)
Outside of her extensive silverware collection, Bird has also racked up a number of accolades and records during her Hall of Fame-worthy WNBA career with the Seattle Storm, including 11 All-Star appearances, being elected to the WNBA’s Top 15 Players of All Time group in 2011, and becoming the WNBA’s all-time assists leader - a feat she achieved in 2017.
Bird continued to win titles in the WNBA off-season
One would assume that most athletes would welcome a break in their sporting calendar - a chance for some R&R following a season of training, travel, and high-level competition.
Not so for Bird, who, from 2004 to 2007 and again from 2011 to 2014, competed in the Russian Premier League, Russian Super League, and EuroLeague during the WNBA off-season. She would go on to win both the Russian Super League and the EuroLeague with Spartak Moscow Region, and three consecutive Russian League championships with UMMC Ekaterinburg.
Making World Cup history...and on the verge of an Olympic record
Bird is the first player (of any gender) in history to win four championships at the FIBA World Cup, and she could set another record in Tokyo alongside compatriot Diana Taurasi as the first basketball players of any gender to win five Olympic gold medals if they are a part of a triumphant U.S. team in Tokyo this summer.
The pair have won gold representing the United States at Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012, and Rio 2016.
Launched Togethxr with fellow Olympians
Bird is one of the co-founders of Togethxr, a new media commerce company with a mission to “elevate women’s voices and tell their stories”, with a focus on culture, activism, lifestyle and sports.
The quartet has eight Olympic gold medals between them and each have made history in their respective sports (Manuel became the first Black woman to win an Olympic gold medal at Rio 2016, Kim is the youngest athlete to win a Winter X Games gold medal, Morgan is a two-time World Cup winner and former No.1 overall pick in the Women’s Professional Soccer League, and Bird’s litany of accomplishments can be found above).
Bird is engaged to Megan Rapinoe
Bird and Rapinoe - an Olympic gold medalist (Rapinoe won gold with Team USA in London the women’s football tournament) - met at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, and began dating not long after.
Rapinoe, in addition to her Olympic gold medal, is a two-time World Cup winner, and was named The Best FIFA Women's Player in 2019 - as well as winning the Ballon d'Or Féminin.