Bird to miss All-Star Game to undergo knee surgery

NEW YORK -- Seattle's Sue Bird, Phoenix's Diana Taurasi and Indiana's Tamika Catchings were the leading vote-getters among the WNBA All-Star starters announced Tuesday night.

Bird led all players with 128,838 votes for the July 15 game at Washington but will sit out while recovering from knee surgery. The Storm announced Bird, who played against Los Angeles on Tuesday night, will undergo arthroscopic surgery Friday to remove loose particles in her left knee and will be sidelined about two weeks.

"To be honest, maybe if I had nothing after this I would try and gut it out. But then [my doctor] said it could get worse," Bird said. "Playing on it one extra week wasn't the end of the world. Playing on it another two and a half, three months, that could have been a problem."

Taurasi, sixth in the league in scoring at 18.2 points per game, was second in the Western Conference with 124,918 votes. The other starters will be Bird's Seattle teammate, Lauren Jackson, San Antonio guard Becky Hammon and Sacramento forward Yolanda Griffith.

Griffith will be making her seventh All-Star appearance -- fourth as a starter -- and Jackson her sixth overall and third starting. Hammon, acquired from New York in the offseason, will become the second player to start for both conferences -- joining Dawn Staley, who accomplished the feat last season for Houston after previously
starting for Charlotte. Taurasi will make her third appearance and second start.

Catchings, averaging 16.6 points and 8.9 rebounds, was the top vote-getter in the East with 124,144 and will make her fifth straight All-Star start. She will be joined by Fever teammate Anna DeForge, a first-time All-Star, and three players from defending champion Detroit: guard Deanna Nolan, forward Cheryl Ford and center Kara Braxton, also a first-time All-Star. Nolan and Ford are making their fourth appearances, with Ford her second start and Nolan her first.

Reserves, selected by head coaches in the respective conferences, will be announced Monday, and WNBA president Donna Orender will announce a roster replacement for Bird after that. Sacramento coach Jenny Boucek, who will lead the West, will then
select Bird's replacement in the starting lineup.

"I don't want to play without [Bird]," Jackson said. "She's my best mate."