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Monday, July 21
Updated: July 23, 9:39 AM ET
Bird apologizes to fans for making wager

Associated Press

SEATTLE -- Seattle Storm standout Sue Bird on Monday canceled a wager made earlier this season with a sports radio talk show host, who had proposed to spank her on his program if she lost the bet.

Bird, 22, apologized to fans, saying in a team statement that she made the bet "as a good-natured way to draw the radio talent and listeners to Storm games.''

After realizing the bet had offended some people, Bird decided to call it off.

The wager hinged on whether Bird's assist-to-turnover ratio would turn out higher than 2-1 at the end of the season.

As the bet stood, Bird would have had to cry, "Harder, Daddy, harder'' during the spanking if she lost. If Bird won the bet, program host Mitch Levy would have had to buy season tickets to Storm games next year.

"She did it in fun and she did it with the best of intentions,'' said Bird's agent, Jimmy Gould. "She's terribly upset about it. She regrets it. She hopes people understand.''

Gould said Bird "learned a good lesson'' and wants to take responsibility for her mistake.

"She didn't stop to think about the impact she has on younger people and that she's expected to be more clear and thoughtful when making a statement like that, even though it was done in fun,'' he said.

Bird was on pace to win the wager: She's the WNBA's top playmaker with 137 assists and 63 turnovers in 20 games.

The bet drew criticism, including a comment from state Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, who teaches women's studies at the University of Washington.

"It helps feed into the images of violence against women and stereotyping,'' Kohl-Welles told Seattle Times sports columnist Steve Kelley. "I don't condemn her. I appreciate that she doesn't have the experience in life that other women have had. But this could be very hurtful. Not just to the WNBA, but to other women and girls.''

In the team statement, Bird said: "As genuine as my intentions were, I realize the negative effect that this bet has had and would like to apologize.''

Storm vice president Karen Bryant supported Bird's decision.

"The Storm is focused on maintaining its role as a positive group of female role models, specifically a team of talented and strong athletes,'' Bryant said.

The Storm and other WNBA teams have had difficulty getting men age 18-35 to come to games since the league was founded in 1997. That's the demographic Bird said she was considering when she agreed to the bet.

"He (Levy) symbolizes that guy the league is trying to attract,'' Bird told The Times. "He's talking to that guy every morning. I believe that if I can get him in a seat to attend a game, then maybe his opinion will change and he'll talk about it on the air.''

Efforts to reach Levy or executives at KJR-AM by telephone were not successful Monday evening.

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