June 13, 2023 

Locked on Women’s Basketball: Sue Bird’s jersey retirement, Seattle’s rookies and more

Natalie and Rowan talk all things Seattle — Sue Bird's jersey ceremony

It’s time for another Locked on Women’s Basketball podcast episode. Rowan Schaberg joins host Natalie Heavren to discuss the entirety of Sue Bird’s jersey retirement ceremony and press conference. The pair also discuss what Bird has meant to Seattle, the impact and opportunity of the Storm’s four rookies and what’s next for the team after a 1-6 start to the season.

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Rowan talks about the length of Sue Bird’s jersey retirement ceremony and what did the ceremony consist of:

“I believe it clocked in at two hours and 55 minutes. I was zoned out by the end. So it felt like it had been about three hours. And I think that was confirmed by Kevin Pelton. He recorded the entire thing. And I checked in with him and he said two hours and 55 minutes.”

“The overall vibe was a lot more positive than her final game in Seattle last season. I think that in that final game, there was just a lot of kind of unknowns. And everyone was a little bit nervous because the fans and just the city of Seattle has never seen the Seattle Storm, or they have seen the Seattle Storm but not for a very long time without Sue Bird. So it was just a lot of nervousness and what is to come for a team that has been led by the same person for 21 seasons. So this was a lot more positive.

I think everyone now knows what the team looks like. And everyone knows all the pieces that we have. So it was just more of a celebration. It kind of felt like a family reunion. You know, everyone coming together to celebrate, one person. Sue Bird actually said it felt like a wedding and a funeral at the same time because everyone was talking about her like you would have at a funeral. But it was just really exciting and happy and sharing stories, like a wedding.”

Rowan talks about Sue Bird’s reaction to the jersey ceremony:

“Sue definitely seems like everyone was saying this as well that she doesn’t really like all the attention on her, which is interesting because that’s what she has had for the past 21 years. Especially in this last year, so you could tell that she was a little bit uncomfortable, but she seemed really happy to hear what everyone had to say.

And telling all of these stories, even Megan Rapinoe said that Sue has a hard time just kind of stepping back and actually realizing what she has meant to the game of basketball, women’s basketball, and Seattle. Megan had been encouraging her to really soak in the moment because, a lot of it Sue hadn’t actually thought about what people were saying about her. So it seemed like she was a lot more open to bragging about what a great career she’s had, and listening to stories and really, truly listening to how she has impacted other people.”

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