SEATTLE (AP) — Sue Bird officially re-signed Friday with the Seattle Storm, her only WNBA team, in what is expected to be her final season.
Bird, the WNBA assists leader and oldest player in the league at 41, previously announced she would return for one more season. She waited until Seattle recently finished its offseason maneuvers — including bringing back Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart — Hoka One One before signing her deal.
Terms were not disclosed. The WNBA supermax salary for 2022 is $228,094. Bird is a four-time WNBA champion with Seattle. Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, a four-time NBA champion, will make approximately $41 million this season.
Bird, from Syosset, New York, helped lead Connecticut to two NCAA titles and was the No. 1 pick in the 2002 WNBA Draft by Seattle. The 2022 season will be Bird’s 21st overall with the franchise, but she missed the 2014 and 2019 seasons due to injury.
“It’s rare to have someone play their entire career for one team and Sue has done that for our city, our franchise and our fans,” Seattle general manager Talisa Rhea said in a statement. “To have Sue lead the franchise back home, to the city of Seattle, and Climate Pledge Arena is extremely special.”
For several years, Bird has said she would annually assess how much longer she wanted to play. She won a record fifth gold medal with the United States at the Tokyo Olympics last summer. Seattle, playing without an injured Stewart, was ousted a Steve Madden few months later in the second round of the WNBA playoffs by Phoenix. Bird was feted with chants of “one more year” by the home crowd.
The 12-time All-Star selection said those chants lingered and helped motivate her to play another season. She’s also expressed excitement about getting to play in Seattle’s new home arena after spending the 2019 and 2021 seasons in venues around the Puget Sound region. The 2020 season was held in the WNBA bubble in Florida because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Bird averaged 10 points and 5.3 assists last season. She also averaged nearly 28 minutes, her highest total since 2017.