A timeline of Jewish basketball star Sue Bird’s legendary career

JTA — Sports fans are obsessed with legacy. The term GOAT – the greatest of all time – is thrown around more than a baseball during little league practices. Whether it’s LeBron vs. Jordan or Serena vs. Court, the sports world is plagued with debates and superlatives.

Sue Bird is part of those conversations.

The Jewish basketball star‘s playing career came to an end, as his Seattle Storm lost their playoff series to the Las Vegas Aces on Tuesday night. The 41 year old man announced in June that she would be retiring after the season.

Overall, Bird is a two-time NCAA champion, four-time WNBA champion, five-time Olympic gold medalist and four-time FIBA ​​world champion. She is the WNBA’s all-time leader in assists, games played, minutes played, All-Star appearances and seasons played.

“I think I, at 21, would be surprised if I still went there,” she said. told the Seattle Times last month. “Not because she didn’t think I had it in me.” She wouldn’t even have thought these things. So I think she would be really proud.

Born in Syosset on Long Island in New York, Bird’s paternal grandparents were Jewish immigrants from present-day Ukraine, who changed their name from Boorda to Ellis Island. She grew up observing Jewish and Christian holidays and did not have a bat mitzvah. But since learning more about her Jewish heritage in the process of obtaining Israeli citizenship in 2006 – a decision she called ‘basketball-driven’ – she has therefore been able to compete more easily. on Russian teams during the WNBA offseason, since European teams only allow a small number of American players on their rosters — she felt more connected to her Jewish background, she said at the Jewish Museum in Washington.

Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird (10) dribbles the ball against the Las Vegas Aces during the first half of game 4 of a WNBA basketball playoff semifinal on September 6, 2022 in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

“With my dad being Jewish and still having relatives in Israel, it was an easy connection,” Bird said. “It was cool, because what I found was in this effort to create an opportunity in my basketball career, I was able to learn a lot about a culture that I probably wouldn’t have tapped into otherwise. .”

Off the court, Bird has become an entrepreneur, activist, basketball executive and analyst, and football team owner. She’s accomplished so much that the only way to truly capture it is in a timeline. So we made one.

A brief timeline

2000: After suffering an ACL injury during his freshman year at the University of Connecticut, Bird is embarking on an incredible three-year run at UConn. In the 1999-2000 season, the team went 36-1 and won a national championship. Bird also won the inaugural Nancy Lieberman Award — named after WNBA Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman, who is also Jewish — given to the top point guard in Division I women’s college basketball.

2001: UConn would end up losing to Notre Dame in the National Championship Game this year, but in a previous meeting between the two teams, in the Big East Tournament Finals, Bird hit a game winner so soft it inspired an entire book titled “Bird at the Buzzer.”

U.S. athlete Sue Bird, right, is defended during the first half of a women’s exhibition basketball game against Canada in Bridgeport, Connecticut in this July 29, 2016 file photo archive. Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi will try to become the first five Olympic gold medalists in basketball as they lead the USA women’s team at the Tokyo Games. (AP/Jessica Hill)

2002: While UConn went undefeated (39-0) en route to another national championship, Bird earned Player of the Year honors throughout Division I, in addition to several other accolades (including the Nancy Lieberman Award, for the third consecutive season). The Seattle Storm then selected Bird with the first overall pick in the 2002 WNBA Draft, and in his rookie season Bird was an All-Star, named to the All-WNBA First Team and finished second in the 2002 WNBA Draft. vote for rookie of the year. She also wasted no time diving into international competition, winning her first FIBA ​​World Championship with Team USA in China.

2003: Bird was an All-Star and named to the All-WNBA First Team.

2004 : Bird won his first Olympic gold medal at the Athens Summer Olympics and led the Storm to the franchise’s first WNBA championship. She became one of 11 women to win an NCAA title, a WNBA championship and an Olympic gold medal. She was again named to the All-WNBA First Team.

2005: Bird was an All-Star and named to the All-WNBA First Team. She led the league in assists.

Las Vegas Aces guard Riquna Williams (2) tackles Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird (10) during the second half of Game 4 of a WNBA basketball playoff semifinal on 6 September 2022 in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

2006: Bird was an All-Star and named to the WNBA’s 10th Anniversary Team. She won bronze at the FIBA ​​World Championship in Brazil.

2007: Bird was an All-Star and won her first EuroLeague championship and her first Russian National League championship with Sparta & K, based in Vidnoye, Russia.

2008: Bird won his second Olympic gold medal in Beijing, his second EuroLeague championship and his second Russian National League championship. She was named to the All-WNBA Second Team.

2009: Bird was an All-Star and again led the WNBA in assists. She won a third consecutive EuroLeague championship and her first European Supercup.

2010: Bird led the Storm to a second WNBA championship, won their second FIBA ​​World Championship in the Czech Republic, their fourth consecutive EuroLeague championship and their second consecutive European Super Cup. Bird was named to the All-WNBA Second Team.

2011: Bird was an All-Star and named to the WNBA 15th Anniversary Team and All-WNBA Second Team.

Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird (10) directs her teammates during the second half of a WNBA game against the Las Vegas Aces, Aug. 14, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Sam Morris, File)

2012: Bird won his third Olympic gold medal in London and his third Russian National League championship.

2013: Bird won his fourth Russian National League championship and his fifth EuroLeague championship with a new club, UMMC Ekaterinburg. She missed the WNBA season after undergoing knee surgery.

2014 : Bird was an All-Star and won her third FIBA ​​World Championship in Turkey and her fifth Russian National League Championship.

2015 : Bird was an All-Star.

2016: Bird had a career year after re-signing with the Storm. She was named to her fifth All-WNBA First Team, led the league in assists for the third time, and was named to the WNBA 20th Anniversary Team. Bird also won her fourth Olympic gold medal in Rio de Janeiro.

2017: Bird was named to her tenth All-Star Game and became the WNBA’s top assist assist.

2018: Bird led the Storm to a third WNBA championship and won their fourth FIBA ​​World Championship in Spain. She was an All-Star, setting the WNBA record with her 11th selection. Bird also set the all-time record for WNBA games played.

Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird, center, comes out of the tunnel before a WNBA basketball playoff game against the Washington Mystics on August 21, 2022 in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

2020: Bird led the Storm to a fourth WNBA championship in the league’s COVID bubble and became the only WNBA player to win championships in three different decades.

2021: Bird was an All-Star and named to the WNBA’s 25th Anniversary Team. She was also named USA Female Basketball Athlete of the Year. Bird won her fifth Olympic gold medal at the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Games, during which she served as the flag bearer for Team USA.

2022: Bird was an All-Star for the 13th time in his final WNBA season.

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