Sue Bird – Dominance
Sue Bird, the WNBA all-star and two-time Olympic gold medalist from Syosset, is looking forward to leading the women’s basketball team to their fifth straight win—a feat they hope will earn them the respect they feel they’re lacking.
It’s also a family reunion of sorts. Bird will be playing alongside Diana Taurasi and Swin Cash, former teammates from her time on the University of Connecticut’s Huskies a decade ago, most notably in the 2002 undefeated national championship season—the first of a rare college title three-peat. They’ll all be playing for their former UConn coach, Geno Auriemma.
“It’s great to be with them,” the 31-year-old tells the Press during a phone interview from Washington, D.C. “They’re a family, and I think there’s a comfort there that I think will help us.”
Taurasi, who’s also making her third Olympic appearance, has said that they should get shirts that read “Road to Respect,” playing off the 2008 men’s team’s motto, “Road to Redemption.”
“It’s never easy,” Bird says between practices. “People assume that we’re going to get there.”
While the women’s team is widely expected to make the gold a slam dunk, the path to London hasn’t been easy—each member has had her own obstacles to overcome, says Bird.
“I think all of the players on this team have had to make sacrifices,” she says. “Things like holidays, relatives’ birthdays, weddings. You have times when they have to miss things like that…that’s part of being an athlete.”
Funerals are different. Just this month, Bird lost her stepfather Dennis and had been in mourning with her family. She rejoined the Olympic crew a week before they were slated to play their first game against Croatia.
“I think my role on this team has kind of evolved along the way,” Bird says, recalling the 2004 games in Greece, her first. “I was kind of there to learn. I think we are ready to lead the team.”
As one of the most decorated LI Olympians, who’s also among the top female athletes in the country, Bird doesn’t let the pressure get to her. Her prowess on the court was captured in a book released last year, Bird at the Buzzer, about the 2001 Big East championship game between UConn and Notre Dame dubbed by some sportscasters “the best women’s basketball game ever played.”
She and her teammates are hoping that after the final buzzer sounds in London, they’ll be wearing gold around their necks.