Sue Bird says ‘all signs’ point to ’22 being her last season

SEATTLE — Sue Bird says all signs are pointing toward the 2022 season being her last in the WNBA with the Seattle Storm, but she does not want the upcoming season to be a farewell tour.

“I think it’s assumed to be my last and I do believe all arrows are pointing in that direction,” Bird said Tuesday. “For some reason, I don’t necessarily want to operate in that space because I think for my personality ... it doesn’t necessarily fit for every game I go into to be ‘this is Sue’s last game in this city. This is her last time putting her shoe on.’ I don’t really operate in that space well, but I understand that comes with it.”

Bird, a four-time WNBA champion, 12-time All-Star and the oldest player in the league at 41, previously announced she would return for one more season. She waited until Seattle finished its offseason maneuvers — including bringing back Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart — before signing her deal with the Storm last week.

Bird said she expected the first question to be about whether the upcoming season would be her last.

“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. “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.”

Bird, the league’s all-time leader in assists, said last season was the first time she played with the idea of possibly retiring in her mind. Seattle lost to Phoenix in the second round of the WNBA playoffs and Bird was met with chants of “one more year” by the home crowd after the loss.

Bird said that resonated and within a few days she called her trainer and decided to start preparing to play in 2022.