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She is a revered teammate, the center of every huddle, a fan favorite from coast to coast; the ponytailed point guard always has looked the part of the girl next door as much as the face of a franchise. But few outside her family and friends truly know her.
She has thoroughly and thoughtfully answered countless questions from reporters since she was a teenager, but Bird usually demonstrated a default mode: cautious.
1 pick in 2002 out of UConn -- but she hadn't publicly confirmed it before. "It's happening when it's happening because that's what feels right," Bird says. women's soccer team and the Seattle Reign, and Sue Bird have been dating since last fall.
"So even though I understand there are people who think I should have done it sooner, it wasn't right for me at the time. It's my journey." Bird leans back in a wooden Adirondack chair and settles in to detail the essential parts of her story -- with help from those who know her best. The two attended UConn's 100th consecutive victory in Storrs, Connecticut, last February.
Her accolades are already legendary: two NCAA titles at UConn when the Huskies were establishing their dynasty in the early 2000s; two WNBA championships with the Storm; four Olympic gold medals with Team USA; three world championship golds; and four Euro League titles while competing in Russia.
Now an All-Star for a record-tying 10th time, she'll start for the West squad before an adoring Key Arena crowd on Saturday in Seattle.
Brad and Sue were born 13 days apart in October 1980, and their older sisters were sports teammates. (Barnett concedes that Bird won when she sent a singing telegram to his house.) As teens, they once had a game of one-on-one that got so heated that it came to a 20-minute standstill when both refused to get the basketball after it rolled to the other end of the gym.
Bird might be in the fourth quarter of her basketball career -- at 36, she is the oldest player in the WNBA and is in her 15th season with the Seattle Storm -- but she is expertly managing the clock.