Northwest

Sue Bird talks asterisk next to 2020 championship, competing in 2021 Olympics

Northwest

 

Last season was a unique one for the WNBA.

Due to COVID-19, the league had a condensed season at an isolated area in Florida, which was commonly referred to by players as the “wubble.”

The situation created tense moments with a global pandemic and an uproar in America due to violence, and all the players could do was watch their country change before their eyes.

But while in Florida, all the players were there for one goal and that’s to win a championship.

The Seattle Storm captured their second title in three seasons, and similar to the NBA, people on the outside will question the legitimacy of their ring.

"Yeah, a lot of people have talked about there being an asterisk during the 2020 season, but this was the hardest one,” said Sue Bird in an interview with Complex.com. “The reason why is because there was just obviously so much more going on and the season was representing something much bigger than basketball. But simultaneously we were still being asked to be professional athletes and play the game and play at a high level. What’s interesting is you can really connect it to Greatness Under Pressure because there was just a lot on all of our plates. 

 

“We were fighting for certain things from a social justice standpoint, advocating, we were being strategic, and being an activist in our world requires a lot of energy—emotional energy, a lot of time, and here we were dedicating our time to that, but also dedicating our time to the basketball part of it and finding ways to continue to be great under that pressure, because it did exist. So for me and our team, we happened to be the team standing at the end, but I happen to believe that every single person in that was in that bubble came out on top because we accomplished so much off the court.”

Their job was to play basketball but the women inside the “wubble” knew being down there would give them an elevated platform to share their concerns and general opinions regarding the wrongdoings in the U.S.

Being in a global pandemic also led to the postponement of the Olympics for the first time in decades. A year later and the highlight of so many athletes will return, and Bird, 40, isn’t nervous about her fifth Olympic run, despite the uncertainty of her career.

“I get real nostalgic and kind of take it as it comes,” said Bird. “Listen, if they call me up and tell me I’ve made the team of course I’m going to be super excited about that. It’ll mean a lot—for me growing up there was no WNBA so the Olympics was always the end all, be all, the ultimate goal. So to have a chance to do it for a fifth time is incredible. To represent your country is incredible. To go into other countries is incredible. However it shakes out, I’m excited about it.”

The pandemic has brought questions regarding the legitimacy of Bird’s fourth WNBA championship, but also made her a year older. Now she may not be a lock for the Olympic team like she used to, but time will tell.