Sonics’ Legend Gary Payton On Sue Bird’s Retirement Announcement, “It Will Be A Loss To Basketball When She Leaves”

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Earlier this year, Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird announced that the 2022 WNBA season would be her last.

“I’ve decided this will be my final year. I have loved every single minute, and still do, so gonna play my last year, just like this little girl played her first,” Bird tweeted.

She made the announcement right before her final game against the New York Liberty in her hometown of New York & could share that moment with her family and friends one last time.

“I just really felt strongly about announcing my retirement, saying it was my last year so I can share that with my family and my friends, all the people in New York who have watched me growing up so they can come and see me play for the last time in my home state. So I’m excited about that. It’s also bittersweet.”

Someone that was able to watch Sue Bird grow in the city of Seattle since the Storm drafted her in 2002 has been Sonics legend Gary Payton. This past week, Payton was at The Big 3 in Fresco, Texas and sang Bird’s praises as he was talking about what the WNBA will miss when Bird retires later this year.

“That’s my girl. We have been friends for a long time & she deserves it. After twenty good seasons in the WNBA especially playing at a high level as she played in, she deserves everything that she is getting. It will be a loss to basketball when she leaves, but she paved the way. She paved the way for other players to come in and see. I just give her all the respect.”

Last month, both Bird and Payton were coaches in the Champions Of Change Celebrity Basketball Game in Seattle at Climate Pledge Arena.

“Look all those names, all the greats, the OGs Shawn Kemp & Gary Payton. Then you got Jamal and Nate; I mean, it’s just everybody… It’s going to be fun to be there with everybody,” said Bird.

This past weekend, Bird surpassed former Mystics and Sparks guard Alana Beard for third all-time in steals. During the Storm’s game against the Indiana Fever, Bird recorded two steals bringing her career total to 711.

The Storm would go on to beat the Fever 81-65 after the game, Bird’s teammate Breanna Stewart was asked what makes Sue better at defense than people give her credit for?

“I just thinks it’s here court awareness. Everyone know that she know where they are going to be offensively & she knows the same defensively. She knows who she is guarding, who has the ball, which match up is important, and puts herself in passing lanes. And she’s a defensive stopper, said Stewart.”

Storm play the Chicago Sky on Wednesday.

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Written by Landon Buford

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