Sue Bird sees no hypocrisy in WNBA players staying on court for anthem at Olympics

SAITAMA, Japan -- Sue Bird sees no contradiction with the U.S. team staying on the court during the national anthem at the Olympics.

It's a change for the four-time Olympic gold medalist and her WNBA teammates. During the WNBA season, players usually leave the court to raise awareness for social justice before the anthem is played at games.

"You are wearing USA jerseys, and it does change the conversation a little bit and what you're representing," Bird told The Associated Press after practice Saturday. "With that, I don't feel like a hypocrite in any way. Everyone knows where we stand. I don't think it contradicts anything since we're actually doing the work."

Logistically, it would be difficult for the U.S. to not be on the court for the anthem. Unlike at WNBA games, where it's played about 10 minutes before tipoff, at the Olympics it's played right before the start of games.

That doesn't mean the women won't use the Olympic platform to continue to raise awareness.

Bird and her Olympic teammates locked arms before three exhibition games in Las Vegas last week, and she expects that to continue during the Tokyo Games.

A flag-bearer at the opening ceremony, Bird said she believes people know where she and her WNBA teammates stand on social justice issues.

"We all want our country to be a better place, and that's what this is about," she said. "That's an athlete's mentality, and there's really no better people to do that than athletes. What do we do every single day? What do we talk about? Getting better. ... I think we should approach our country that way."