Let’s start with the Storm’s new logo.
“I like how clean it is,” Sue Bird said while sporting a green hoodie with the team’s rebranded image on the front. “It’s like to the point, but it’s also versatile. You can tell in some of the different color schemes. There’s a lot to play with. I like the thunderbolt the best. That’s my favorite part.”
Did you have any input?
“Not really,” Bird added. “I saw some mock up stuff, but I think they were just being nice and letting me into the process. I don’t know if I had any real say.”
Against her better judgment, Bird said the WNBA plans to unveil three new jerseys — a traditional home and away uniform as well as an alternative “city-inspired” jersey — for all 12 teams sometime next month.
“So stay tuned,” she said. “There’s your tease that I probably wasn’t supposed to say.”
Making her first public appearance locally in nearly two years, Bird, who signed a one-year, super maximum deal worth $221,450 earlier this week, stood next to teammate Jordin Canada on the Space Needle observation deck on a gorgeous Seattle afternoon Wednesday and addressed a litany of offseason topics.
(On returning with Seattle for her 20th year and 18th season) “My free agencies are pretty boring. I kind of make it clear where my allegiance lies so coming back to the Storm was always a given. There was no question otherwise. For me, I’m at a place in my career where — yes, I love money. We all love money, but that’s not what’s going to be the motivating factor for me.
“So I just wanted to wait and allow the team to do what it could to have the best team possible. And right now the way the new CBA works a lot of that is financial conversations. For me it wasn’t about the actual pen-to-paper signing, I wanted to play on a team and I want to compete for a championship at all times and my money wasn’t going to be the reason that somebody can’t stay. So that’s really where I was coming from and that’s why it quote unquote took so long. But it really didn’t. I was always in. It was just a matter of wrapping up the moolah.”
(On if 2021 will be her last year) “I don’t know. Here’s the thing, I’m just super focused on 2021. As I’ve said for the last couple of years, it’s how I feel. I’m not going anywhere. If I’m still able to play, great. I think after this year I’ll have to consider my options and see everything that’s on the table and go from there. It’s not something I think about. I joke about being on a one-year plan and it’s really the truth.”
(On Seattle losing Natasha Howard, Alysha Clark, Sami Whitcomb and Crystal Langhorne while adding Candice Dupree, Katie Lou Samuelson and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan) “I’ve been playing long enough and been on teams where the core has stayed together for years. I’ve been in rebuilds. What this year feels similar to is after we won in 2004. We won that year and then we had some key pieces — Kamila Vodichkova left and Tully Bevilaqua left. I’m getting 2005 vibes. Looking back on that experience and comparing it to now, I think it’s OK to feel sad that people who you played with for a long time and had success with aren’t going to be here anymore. So I feel sad about that. I also wish them the best of luck.
“The one good thing about shake-ups in your roster is that it brings a little bit of alertness to your team. You can’t get complacent. You can’t relax and kind of fall into what was very comfortable for us the last couple of years. Now we all have to be on high alert again in a good way. And it can keep things fresh so hopefully that’s what happens. And you just have to create a new identity and go from there. Every team faces this at some point and now it’s our turn.”
(On attempting to repeat as WNBA champions) “In some ways when you’re the team that’s trying to repeat, you fall into the trap of this worked last year. … It’s going to be really important for us — and think this is where having a new roster could help — there’s going to be none of that because some of the new people weren’t here last year so it’s a totally different experience.
“But regardless of who’s on the roster, we’re the champions and we’re the team that everybody is going to look to kind of take the trophy from. So we’ll be getting teams’ best shots. … The one thing I do like about the personality of our team is we’re pretty chill. We really are. We say that all the time and it’s the truth. We’re never too high. We’re never too low. We kind of just do our thing. So hopefully we can find that balance.”
(On Dupree replacing Howard) “That’s another trap that we don’t want to fall into. The new players are going to bring their own skill set. It’s not going to be who can be Natasha? Who can be AC and who can be Sami? It’s not going to be like that. For Candice, I played against her for so many years. I played with her with USA Basketball.
“The one thing that’s really great about our offense is if you’re a post player that can shoot, you’re going to get open. It’s just the way our offense flows. It’s the way it runs. To be honest the offense is really predicated on a player like (Breanna Stewart). Think about all the open jump shots that Stewie gets and she’s the best player and everybody is trying to stop her. I see Candice fitting in really nicely because we run a lot of pick-n-rolls. She’s great in the pick-n-pop game. But again, her offensive ability to shoot, I think that’s where you’re going to see her shine.”
(On finding someone to replace Clark) “I don’t think there’s any player in the league that’s like AC so it’s not really a fair question. … That’s not how basketball works. You don’t fill shoes that way. I’m sure when we get to training camp, things show themselves. They always do.”
(On the WNBA’s new CBA, larger contracts and increased player movement via free agency) “There’s so many levels to it that I think are good. Jordin is a good example. We now have players that now have contract years. If you rewind even just a couple of years, that really wasn’t a thing. Your money didn’t jump enough for you to maybe feel that – it’s not pressure – but that energy about a contract year.
“In my early years, you know who I remember having a bomb contract year? (Former Sonic) Jerome James. He had this great year and everybody talked about it because it was his contract year. And it was a big deal. But I remember that. And those are motivating factors for players. And we need that in the WNBA. We need it for us the players to want to reach for a max contract. To think about that and be like wow, I better play well so I can do that. As players we needed that motivation because it was getting stale because everybody was just making the same.
“And I think for you guys (the media), it’s a lot of great storylines. I think the optics of it is it’s going to get conversations going about our league. Whether it’s the local media and hopefully the national media as well pick up on these storylines. For lack of a better, the drama is a part of sports. People tune in for those reasons and they follow the storylines. All of the above makes it great. Of course when you’re the team that gets hit, it’s not amazing. But it’s all part of the game. Now the agents and the GMs, they got to earn that money.”
(On launching media company TOGETHXR with Alex Morgan, Simone Manuel and Chloe Kim) “It was probably about a year and half ago, pre-pandemic for sure, where Alex Morgan reached out and was like hey and telling me about this idea to have this production company founded by women that would be for women and for girls of the next generation. Really to simplify it and say it quick and easy, the 4% media coverage for women’s sports that’s a problem. A lot of times we try to fight for more percentage so this is a way for Alex, myself, Chloe and Simone to do something about it. It really spoke to me in that first initial conversation with Alex and like I said, a year and half later we’ve finally been able to launch. We’ve been waiting and we’re all really excited to get work and to get content up there for everyone to see.”
(On potentially joining an NBA or WNBA ownership group) “It’s definitely something that’s crossed my mind. It’s one of those things where it’s really hard to have those conversations when you’re still playing. So it’s not anything that was ever a real possibility. Even in the GQ article that (fiancé Megan Rapinoe) and I had, I even had mentioned it at that point with the Storm and the Sonics. Being involved in the Seattle sports scene would be something that I’m extremely interested in.”
(On the WNBA’s social advocacy) “We definitely set the bar high in terms of what we can achieve. I think it would be a mistake to have the conversation about how do you outdo that? You don’t. You just keep pushing. You keep moving forward like Jordin said. Continue the conversation. It’s who we’ve always been. These things aren’t really new so we’re just going to keep talking about them.”