Sue Bird, the legendary point guard of the Seattle Storm in the WNBA, has not only left an indelible mark on the court but has also inspired and mentored fellow players throughout her illustrious career. Two players who have been profoundly influenced by Bird are Natasha Cloud and Ariel Atkins, both rising stars in the league. They recently shared their favorite moments with the basketball icon, showcasing the impact she has had on their careers and personal journeys.
For Natasha Cloud, the defining moment came in 2018 when her team, the Washington Mystics, faced off against the Seattle Storm in the WNBA Finals. While the Mystics fell short in that series, it was a transformative experience for Cloud. She witnessed firsthand the leadership, skill, and tenacity that made Bird a true legend at the point guard position.
Cloud recalls, “Why she is the G.O.A.T for me is because when we lost to them in 2018 in the Finals, I saw what I needed to be as a point guard for our team to be successful. I wasn’t there yet, and I took lessons away from it that I could apply in 2019, and because of Sue, I was better.”
Bird’s ability to inspire and motivate her opponents speaks to her status as a true icon in the game. Her performances on the court not only elevated her own team but also challenged her adversaries to strive for greatness. For Cloud, that moment of defeat served as a turning point in her career, pushing her to reach new heights and embody the qualities she admired in Bird.
Ariel Atkins, another promising talent in the WNBA, had the privilege of playing alongside Bird during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The significance of this experience was not lost on Atkins, who had long admired Bird from afar. One particular moment stands out as a testament to their connection and mutual respect.
“It was super easy. I was able to play with her during the Tokyo 2020 games, and they basically hand you the medal, and you don it on your teammate, and she was the one that put my medal on,” Atkins fondly remembers. “That was a big moment because I always looked up to her.”
The symbolism of Bird placing the medal around Atkins’ neck encapsulates the passing of the torch from one generation to the next. It signifies the profound impact Bird has had on the younger players, who see her as a role model and a source of inspiration. Atkins’ admiration for Bird was affirmed in that moment, as she realized that she was now part of a legacy that Bird has helped shape.
Sue Bird’s influence extends far beyond her performances on the basketball court. She has become a mentor, a guiding light, and a source of inspiration for her fellow players. For Natasha Cloud, it was the lessons learned from a hard-fought loss that propelled her to new heights. For Ariel Atkins, it was the honor of being embraced by her idol during a moment of triumph.
As these young athletes continue to make their mark in the WNBA, they carry with them the lessons, inspiration, and memories of their experiences with Sue Bird. Through her leadership, talent, and humility, Bird has cemented her status as one of the greatest of all time. Her impact on the game and the players she has touched will continue to resonate for years to come, ensuring that her legacy extends far beyond the basketball court.