Sue Bird is reflecting on her legacy and the WNBA she’ll leave behind to budding stars like Sabrina Ionescu and Paige Bueckers

‘I’m closer to the end than I am the beginning,’ Sue Bird told Insider. AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
  • In her 17th season playing in the WNBA, legendary Seattle Storm point guard Sue Bird is reflecting on her legacy and the league she’ll leave behind once she retires.
  • As the oldest player in the league, the 39-year-old all-time WNBA assists leader has undoubtedly reached the twilight of her professional basketball career.
  • She spoke with Insider about the impact she’s had on the W, how the point guard position has evolved over time, and passing the torch to young stars like Sabrina Ionescu and Paige Bueckers.
  • “If Sabrina and Paige are the ones to take the reins, the game’s going to be in great hands and my work here is done,” Bird told Insider.
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Sue Bird is undoubtedly a WNBA legend.

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At 39 years old, Sue Bird is the oldest active player in the WNBA. AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

And now that she’s reached the twilight of her illustrious professional basketball career, the veteran Seattle Storm point guard is reflecting on how she’s impacted the game and what the league will look like once she finally decides to step away from the hardwood for good.

“Listen, I’m closer to being done than…,” Bird told Insider, trailing off mid-sentence. “I’m closer to the end than I am the beginning.”

At 39 years old, the all-time WNBA assists leader is the league’s oldest active player. In her 17 seasons playing in the league, Bird has collected three championship rings, 11 All-Star selections, and five All-WNBA first team nods.

Sue Bird speaks to her Seattle Storm teammates during the 2018 WNBA Finals. Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

She’s also seen the W evolve considerably in that 18-year span since the Storm selected her with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 WNBA Draft. Bird like to thinks she’s left her stamp on the game – and the point guard position specifically – by opening up her arsenal to include more weapons than that of a typical floor general.

“When I was growing up, point guards were the ones that set up the offence and passed the ball and made the right decisions and called the plays,” she said. “It started with Dawn Staley but then you had myself and you had Lindsay Whalen. When we started to come through into the WNBA, now all of a sudden the position was different.”

Sue bird
Sue Bird. AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

“Yes, of course we were good at passing the ball and yes, of course we were good at setting up our teammates and running the team, but we could also score,” Bird added. “We added other elements. That has changed the position.”

The 5-foot-9 Syosset, New York, native says the next generation of WNBA stars are primed to push the point guard position to new heights over the course of their careers the same way she, Staley, and Whalen did. New York Liberty rookie Sabrina Ionescu – who was this year’s No. 1 overall draft pick after four incredible years with the Oregon Ducks – is a player Bird has identified as a literal game-changer. And though its still very premature, she says Paige Bueckers – the incoming UConn Huskies superstar whom Bird helped surprise with the esteemed Gatorade Athlete of the Year award – may very well fit the bill as well.

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Sue Bird (right) takes a shot while Sabrina Ionescu looks on. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

“You’re seeing it in Sabrina, who does even more when you think about her rebounding ability,” Bird said. “When you watch Paige play, the first thing is that Paige just has a flair for the game and a swag to her. She can impact in so many different ways at that point guard spot. That’s how I hopefully see players like myself, Lindsay Whalen, how we left our mark on that position.”

“If Sabrina and Paige are the ones to take the reins, the game’s going to be in great hands and my work here is done,” she added.