Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird officially announced that the 2022 WNBA season will be the last of her career. “I’ve decided this will be my final year,” the 41-year-old basketball great who appeared in the 2022 SI Swimsuit Issue wrote on Instagram. “I have loved every single minute, and still do, so gonna play my last year just like this little girl played her first ☺️ #TheFinalYear.”
Along with the caption, Bird shared a January video of fans chanting “One More Year” along with a throwback photo of her on the court in action as a young girl. Expanding on her decision to retire, in a video posted to the team’s Twitter account, she shared, "So obviously when I entered this season I tried to be as honest as possible about where I was. I kind of knew that this was going to be my last year, but I wanted to be for sure about it before I announced retirement and did anything like that that was so final. As the season has gone, I pretty much knew.”
Returning to the New York area for a weekend game against the New York Liberty, the Syosset native felt it was the right time to make the announcement. "Once I saw the schedule, and I started packing for this trip a little bit, I was like 'This is going to be my last time playing in New York,” said Bird, who has played her entire career in Seattle. “This is my last time playing for my family and friends. That's why the timing of this is what it is.”
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The five-time Olympic gold medalist also noted, "I just really felt strongly about announcing my retirement, saying it was my last year, so I could share that with my family and my friends, all the people in New York who have watched me grow up, so they could come and see me play for the last time in my home state. I'm excited about that. It's also bittersweet, of course."
Bird hopes her last season ends with a fifth championship. "I mean, I'm not going to lie, I do want to win," she told PEOPLE. "Holding up a trophy and then calling it a day, I don't think you can write it any better. But I'm not going to let that dictate how much I enjoy what we're doing here."
OL Reign star Megan Rapinoe, Bird’s fiancée who appeared in the 2019 SI Swimsuit Issue, shared videos on her own Instagram Stories and posted underneath the retirement announcement, “I love you baby ❤️ Congrats on the greatest career the @wnba has ever seen!”