The Seattle Storm could have used Sue Bird on Sunday afternoon during their 71-65 defeat to the Washington Mystics in a rematch of their first-round playoff series from last season. Instead, the legendary point guard was sitting courtside ahead of her jersey retirement ceremony, which took place after the game.
The festivities actually started pre-game, as Bird received a standing ovation from the near-sellout crowd -- many of whom lined up hours before tip-off -- as she made made her way to her seat.
Bird also delivered a video message to the city, which was played on the jumbotron.
It read, in part:
From the moment I heard my name on draft night, I knew this city would always hold a special place in my heart. Twenty-one years later, this place has become home. You embraced an eager rookie from Syosset, New York from Day One, and the rest was history. Together, we built a legacy that will always be remembered, adding to the rich basketball history this city holds.
The No. 10 that will hang forever in these rafters symbolizes more than just my individual accomplishments. It represents every person who has supported me, the teammates and staff who competed alongside me and the indomitable spirit of a city I proudly wore on my chest my entire career.
A short time after the final buzzer sounded, the official ceremony began. Bird, her finacée Megan Rapinoe, family, friends and key figures from the past and present of Seattle Storm basketball assembled on the court for speeches and stories touting Bird's legacy. Among the speakers were Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel, former teammates Swin Cash and Lauren Jackson, former head coach Jenny Boucek, Rapinoe and, eventually, Bird herself.
The whole ceremony lasted nearly three hours, so it's impossible to fully encompass here, but a few quotes stood out:
Finally, it was time for her jersey to rise to the rafters alongside Lauren Jackson's No. 15. Those two are the only players in franchise history to have their numbers retired.
Bird was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 WNBA Draft, and she spent her entire career with the Storm before retiring at the end of the 2022 season. Along the way she helped the team win four titles, made 13 All-Star Games and eight All-WNBA teams, and became the league's all-time leader in assists (3,234) and games played (588).