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Age Is Just A Number, And On Sue Bird’s 40th Birthday We Celebrate More Of Her Milestones

By Heather Rule | Oct. 16, 2020, 8 a.m. (ET)

Sue Bird dribbles downcourt during USA Women's National Team Winter Tour 2020 game between the United States and the UConn Huskies on Jan. 27, 2020 in Hartford, Conn.


Basketball success for Sue Bird goes back to her prep playing days in Queens, New York, when she led Christ the King Regional High School to a pair of state titles and was the MVP of the 1998 state tournament.

That was only just beginning.

More than 20 years later, and Bird has added major championships on the collegiate, professional and international levels. Known for her ability to rack up assists, the 5-9 point guard is also a legend when it comes performing in the clutch and guiding her teams to victory. Between the stat sheet and the medal counts, you can find her name at or near the top of many of the sport’s most exclusive lists.

Now, fresh off her fourth WNBA title with the Seattle Storm, Bird celebrates another milestone today as she turns 40.

As Bird gets ready to celebrate the big 4-0, let’s take a look at some of her career highlights by the numbers.

0 – The number of times Bird has come off the bench in the WNBA. If Bird plays a WNBA game, she’s always in the starting lineup.

1 – Bird was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 WNBA Draft, chosen by Seattle. After going 6-26 and 10-22 in their first two seasons in the WNBA, the Storm turned the tide drafting Bird, whose selection marked the first time a guard was the top player drafted in the WNBA.

1 – Bird’s rank on the WNBA all-time regular-season lists in games played (519) and assists (2,888).

2 – NCAA championships with UConn, in 2000 and 2002. Bird helped the 2002 squad to a perfect 39-0 season with the second title. Named the 2002 Associated Press Player of the Year, Bird scored 1,378 points and added 585 assists across 118 games in her UConn career.

2 – Bird’s ranking all-time in the WNBA postseason in assists with 313. Lindsay Whalen tops the list with 341 assists, but that’s over 82 playoff games compared to Bird’s 53 games.

3 – WNBA Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Awards. Bird was a co-winner with Ruth Riley in 2011 before Bird won the award back-to-back in 2017 and 2018.

4 – WNBA Championships with Seattle. Bird and the Storm defeated Connecticut Sun 2-1 in the 2004 WNBA Finals before a trio of 3-0 sweeps to win titles in 2010 (def. Atlanta Dream), 2018 (def. Washington Mystics) and 2020 (def. Las Vegas Aces).

4 – Olympic gold medals with Team USA, winning in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016. She also won four gold medals at the FIBA World Cup in 2002, 2010, 2014 and 2018. Throw in the bronze medal at the 2006 FIBA World Cup (then called World Championship), and she’s the only player — man or woman — to win five World Cup medals.

5 – Number of times Bird has had her nose broken across her career, including in Game 4 of the 2018 WNBA semifinals against Phoenix. As a result, she played wearing a mask for protection.

5.6 – Assists per game for Bird in her regular-season WNBA career. She ranks third in the WNBA in this category. In her 53 postseason games, she ranks fifth in the WNBA with 5.9 assists per game.

6 – The age at which Bird fell in love with basketball, when she attended a New York Knicks game.

7 – Bird’s place on the WNBA all-time scoring list with 6,262 regular-season points. She averages 12.1 points per game in her career. She averaged at least 14 points per game in three seasons, including her rookie year in 2002 and her high-water mark of 14.7 points per game in 2011. She averaged double-digits in points per game each season except 2020, when she averaged 9.8 in 11 games.

9 – Bird’s combination of Olympic and World Cup medals, an all-time record.

10 – Bird’s jersey number worn because she and her sister, Jennifer, were both born in October, the 10th month in the calendar year.

11 – Times Bird was named to the WNBA All-Star team. She made the team in 2002 as a rookie and made her 11th trip in 2018. She’s the all-time leader in WNBA All-Star appearances, moving past Tamika Catching (10 appearances) in 2018. In the 2017 All-Star Game, Bird set an All-Star record with 11 assists.

11 – Bird is one of just 11 players to win an NCAA championship, WNBA championship, World Cup gold medal and Olympic gold medal. Her first WNBA title and Olympic gold medal both came in 2004. The others to have achieved that feat are Swin Cash, Tamika Catchings, Cynthia Cooper, Asjha Jones, Brittney Griner, Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart, Sheryl Swoopes, Diana Taurasi and Kara Wolters.

13 – Assists for Bird to go along with zero turnovers in her game Aug. 1, 2017. She became one of only two players in WNBA history to hit the 13-assist, 0-turnover mark in a game. Bird joined

Jennifer Rizzotti (Cleveland) who had 14 assists and 0 turnovers on June 21, 2002. Rizzotti and Bird are also the only two players in UConn history to record more than 1,000 points, 500 assists and 200 steals in their careers.

16 – Career-high assists in a game, coming against Las Vegas in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals Oct. 2, 2020. Bird scored only 2 points in the game but recorded a game-high 16 assists; the rest of her team had 11 assists combined. Bird helped Seattle defeat Las Vegas 93-80.

19 – The number of seasons Bird played in the WNBA through 2020, though she sat out two of those seasons due to injury.

23 – Bird’s career-high points in a game, coming against Los Angeles in Game 1 of the playoffs Sept. 19, 2008. Bird went 9-for-15 from the field and 5-for-5 at the free-throw line in her 35 minutes on the floor.

89 – Assists dished out by Bird over her four Olympics, another all-time record.

142 – Total wins for Bird in USA Basketball competition, compared with just six losses.

Heather Rule

Heather Rule is a freelance sports journalist and blogger from the Twin Cities. Her work has appeared in various publications. She is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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