Tonight has me thinking about statues. From world famous ones to local ones - even the more recent tributes to local sports legends like Ken Griffey Jr and Dave Niehaus.
Most, if not all, of these statues have something in common: They’re constructed either in memory of a legendary figure or after the end of their careers. Even the famous Michael Jordan statue in Chicago wasn’t made until 1994 – which was after his first retirement, when there weren’t any hints that he would eventually return.
Which brings me to an opportunity Seattle has now – and one that could make history: Erecting a statue of Sue Bird now – while she’s still playing for the Storm.
This weekend, multiple outlets reported that Sue Bird has agreed to re-sign with the Storm. She will be returning for her 18th season in Seattle, where she’s led the Storm to all four titles in franchise history, including two in the last three years. In a commentary here a few months ago, we listed all of her achievements, including the WNBA assists record, the 11 All-Star selections and the four gold medals.
In a week that began with Jordan Morris leaving to play overseas, and longtime Storm veteran Alysha Clark leaving to play for the Mystics, it’s another reminder of how unique it is to have one legend play for one team for two decades.
And of all the things Clark said when she was here, this stands out the most: What she said about Bird.
"Build a statue already! She’s amazing."
That was after a third title. Now she has a fourth. But Clark hit the nail on the head – and the Seahawks Bobby Wagner said the same thing in October. There’s no reason to wait.
When I go to Lambeau Field, I wave hi to the great statue of Vince Lombardi, but I don’t get to see him coach. When you go to Staples Center, you see the statue of Shaq, but you don’t get to see him play. From Bobby Orr to Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente and Arthur Ashe – or locally with Griffey or Niehaus, you pass their statues to be reminded of storied careers, but not to witness that greatness firsthand.
With Bird's commitment to another year with the Storm – and who knows how long after that – Seattle has a chance to change that. And while she’ll probably be the first to say "No Way," it’s a chance to make history in a really great way.
This Wednesday marks the 35th Annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day. Tonight, I nominate the most decorated athlete in Seattle sports history – a woman – to be one of the first, if not the first legendary athletes of a team sport to have a statue erected while they’re still playing - to commemorate everything she’s given to this community, which transcends the unprecedented four championship trophies.
And if she happens to hang around longer than this year, I picture a parent taking their child to that statue of Bird, and then saying:
"Why don't we go watch her play tonight too?"