January 1, 2021
Seattle Storm player season review: Sue Bird
At nearly age 40, the veteran defied expectations to put together another stellar campaign
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No one has told Sue Bird that a player should not be as effective in her age-39 season as she was in 2020. Bird missed 11 games with a bone bruise but averaged 9.8 points, 5.2 assists, and 1.7 assists per game on 49.4 percent shooting from the field. She shot 46.9 percent from beyond the arc on nearly seven attempts per game.
Many players would love that level of production at any age and only the all-time greats can do it at almost 40 years old.
No one knows how much longer Bird will play. She has talked about playing through the 2021 season to help open the Storm’s new arena. But who knows how the pandemic has affected that timeline? Bird has even talked about playing in one more Olympics.
With four championships now and a legacy she solidified long ago, Bird has nothing left to prove. Bird will have a roster spot as long as she wants one and has earned that right. While Bird was limited with injuries in 2020, it seemed to keep her fresh for a long playoff run. Moderating Bird’s games and minutes could be a useful strategy in any future seasons to keep her well-rested.
Bird can do this all day
The fact that she is still a productive player is a bonus. There’s no reason to think that she can’t remain effective in her final seasons. She’s already grown into the veteran playmaker who can still light it up from beyond the arc.
With this Seattle roster, Bird no longer needs to carry them anyway. Bird absolutely contributes and the team is better with her, but her teammates can help shoulder the load. So, if Bird wants to camp at the 3-point line and throw entry passes to Breanna Stewart or take 7.5 triples per game, that’s fine. She does those things well.
Every basketball fan should want Bird to be able to do it on her terms. She missed a full season in 2019 and missed half the 2020 season with a bone bruise. Playing professional basketball for three decades takes a toll and getting ready for games only gets harder after 40.
We can only hope that when Bird calls it quits, she can end it on the highest possible note. While we do not know when Bird will retire, we should appreciate her while she’s here. It’s evident that she has considered retirement after each of the last few seasons, but she continues playing at a high level.
Her 2020 season was arguably her finest shooting performance yet, and who knows what she can do if she does play in 2021. After all, it appears the constraints of time do not apply to Sue Bird.