Sue Bird to retire from WNBA after 2022 season

Five-time Olympic gold medalist Sue Bird, one of the most decorated players in the history of women’s professional basketball, on Thursday announced plans to retire from the WNBA after the 2022 season.

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The Seattle Storm point guard made the announcement on social media.

“I’ve decided this will be my final year,” she wrote, adding, “I have loved every single minute, and still do.”

In a statement, officials with the Storm – where Bird has played her entire, 21-year career – noted that the 41-year-old’s 19 seasons in play mark the most of any player in WNBA history. She is the all-time assists leader in the league and is the only person to have played in at least 500 games, according to the Storm.

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“Bird’s importance to the Seattle Storm franchise cannot be overstated,” team officials said. “Originally selected as the No. 1 overall pick by Seattle in the 2002 WNBA draft, Bird has been with the Storm for 21 of the franchise’s 23 seasons of existence.”

In February, Bird indicated that the 2022 season would be her last with the Storm, saying that “all arrows are pointing in that direction,” according to The Associated Press. She said she considered ending her career during the 2021 season but changed her mind after hearing fans chanting for her to play “one more year.”

“I feel really lucky that I get to be in this position to make this decision. It gets to be on my terms,” Bird said in February, according to the AP. “Not a lot of athletes are afforded that opportunity. Obviously, Lauren Jackson being one I witnessed firsthand having injuries and things like that being the reason for her decision. So I just feel really lucky.”

The Storm are scheduled to take on the Connecticut Sun on Friday.