Storm star Sue Bird finds her voice, and becomes an influential advocate for social justice

Percy Allen, The Seattle Times on

Published in Basketball

ESPN producers shifted the story to focus on Bird's attempt at a fifth Olympic gold medal before the coronavirus pandemic erupted and forced the Tokyo Games to be rescheduled for 2021.

Bird, who is averaging 10.7 points and 3.3 assists, had a strong start to the WNBA season before suffering a knee bruise that has sidelined her.

"(ESPN) followed me for the last year and a half and these different wrenches got thrown in, so the story kept evolving," said the 39-year-old Bird, the league's oldest player. "It ended up being a story about me and my evolution through my career on and off the court.

"It started out as one thing, turned into another and we ended up here. It kind of just happened on its own."

The central theme of the piece is the maturation of an 11-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist who for years has championed equal pay in women's sports and emerged late in her career as a vocal advocate for LGBTQ rights and the Black Lives Matter movement.

"As you go through a career in the public eye, you're growing up in front of people literally," Bird said. "So I think you change through the years and you get comfortable in different ways. And you figure out who you are. That's really how it happens."


Admittedly, Bird's public persona has grown exponentially since coming out as gay in July 2017.

Not until recently had Storm fans been able to see fun-loving version of Bird who gabs on her sofa with Rapinoe about an assortment of topics during their live Instagram show "A Touch More."

Or the serious-minded Bird, who spoke about a social-justice awakening in America while co-hosting the ESPYs this summer with Rapinoe and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

"I used to shy away from moments like this," Bird said in the ESPYs opening monologue, "because it's convenient to be quiet, to be thought of as safe and polite."


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