Sue Bird (L) won four Olympic gold medals for Team USA during her decorated basketball career. File Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 7 (UPI) -- Basketball legend Sue Bird was moved to tears as thousands of fans chanted "thank you, Sue," after the final game of her career, a 97-92 loss in the WNBA semifinals.
Bird, 41, logged eight points and eight assists in the Seattle Storm's loss to the Las Vegas Aces on Tuesday in Seattle. Bird, one of the most decorated basketball players in history, announced her plans to retire in June.
The four-time WNBA champion and 12-time All-Star spent her entire 19-year tenure with the Storm. She joined the team out of UConn as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 WNBA Draft.
"It's sad," Bird told ESPN in a postgame interview. "I'm obviously so thankful for 20 years here. I'm going to miss it so much.
"I wish we could've done a little bit more to get the Finals. I'm so proud of this team. I'm so proud to be a member of the Seattle Storm. It has been my honor to play for this franchise and to play for these fans."
Bird also collected five Olympic gold medals and won two national titles in college. She signed a one-year deal with the Storm last off-season.
She will retire as the WNBA's all-time leader in assists, games played and minutes played. She ranks second in 3-point field goals made and third in steals.
"I just hope the next person that comes in and plays point guard here can just keep the tradition going, keep the winning going, keep the championship level going and keep these fans happy," Bird said. "The same thing goes for the rest of the team, as well.
"I hope I made everybody in here proud."
The Aces will meet the Connecticut Sun or Chicago Sky on Sunday in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals. The game will air at 3 p.m. EDT on ABC.
Aces coach Becky Harmon referenced Australian Ajla Tomljanovic's win over Serena Williams on Friday at the U.S. Open when asked about Bird after Tuesday's win.
That match was likely the final major tournament appearance for Williams, who announced in August that she would "move on" from tennis after the Grand Slam.
"You kinda feel like the girl that beat Serena," Harmon said. "It's like bittersweet. I know myself and our whole staff, team and organization have so much respect for Sue.
"She had a fairytale career. ... Her thumbprint on the game is forever etched in."