SEATTLE - Sue Bird acknowledged Tuesday the real possibility that the 2022 season will be her last with the Seattle Storm. However, Bird doesn't want every game to be a farewell tour either.
"I've used the term one more year, I've said another year. I think it's assumed to be my last and I do believe all arrows are pointing in that direction. For some reason, I don't necessarily want to operate in that space," Bird said at a press conference announcing her return. "Because I think, for my personality, and I've talked to you all about this before, it doesn't necessarily fit. For every game I go into to be 'Oh this is Sue's last time in this city and this is Sue's last time putting her shoe on.' I don't really operate that space well, but I understand that kind of comes with it."
The Storm announced Friday that Bird had re-signed for a 21st year on Friday.
Bird, according to multiple reports, took the WNBA's veteran minimum salary of $72,141 to re-sign with the Storm for 2022.
"Winning championships and being a part of teams that go on that journey, that's everything. That's why I play. That's the motivator, always, and I think nothing really matters outside of that," Bird said of re-signing for the minimum." So while money is amazing, … and we all want to be in a workplace that rewards you in those ways, I find that winning, there's going to be other rewards, some monetary, some otherwise, and I'd rather be on a winning team, a team that has a chance to win."
Bird, 41, is in the conversation of the best women's professional basketball players of all-time. She has played her entire WNBA career with the Storm since being drafted out of the University of Connecticut in 2002. She was named to the W25 team in 2021 as one of the greatest and most influential players in WNBA history. She's a four-time WNBA champion, a league-record 12-time WNBA all-star, a five-time first-team all-WNBA performer, and is the league's all-time leader in assists.
"Sue is Storm basketball. She has been Storm basketball and really represents this franchise in so many different ways," Storm general manager Talisa Rhea said. "On the court, she's the best point guard in the league in history. Everything that she does from her individual ability but also the way that she makes her teammates better, she makes our whole organization better, and really sets the standard for excellence and the championship culture that we have here with the Storm. … "To have the opportunity for her to lead us back to Seattle this season, back the Climate Pledge Arena to play in there for the first time, and to be in front of our fans is an incredible opportunity for us and the Storm and we're really grateful."
Bird received chants of "one more year!" from fans in attendance at the Storm's playoff loss to the Phoenix Mercury in the second round of the WNBA playoffs in September. Bird posted to her instagram account in January a video of that moment along with the caption, "OK, Let's gooooo" in announcing her intentions to return for another season.
Bird said that moment in Everett last fall was one of the reasons she did indeed decide to come back for another season.
"And you know, the truth, not to put it all on the fans, but if that chant hadn't happened, I don't know that I'd be sitting here so I really want to make this about a celebration for everyone. It's not just about me. I don't think my career has ever been just about me. So I would love for it to be a celebration of all things Seattle Storm," Bird said.
"It really has been an incredible 20 years or so and I'm just excited for another one. I'm looking forward to a new arena, being back in Seattle. The roster looks incredible. Obviously I get to work with amazing people in the franchise and I'm so thankful for that. So just really excited."
MORE FROM FOX 13 SPORTS:
WATCH: Sports Commentary from Aaron Levine
FOLLOW: Aaron Levine, Alyssa Charlston, Ian Furness & Curtis Crabtree
HOME OF THE SEAHAWKS
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
WASHINGTON STATE COUGARS