Storm's Sue Bird says she didn't consider opting out of WNBA season over virus

Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird said Saturday that she thought if she didn't play this WNBA season, her career might be over.

Bird, at 39 the oldest active player in the league, spoke via a Zoom call from the WNBA's bubble at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Bird was asked if she had considered opting out for 2020, as some other players have done, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bird said she didn't, because she felt comfortable with what conditions would be like inside the bubble. She is on the players' union executive committee, so she got a close look beforehand on what the protocol would be like.

"I understood that this is all just one big game of trust," Bird said. "It's set up for success, and for us to do well and complete the season. With that, there's a virus that nobody has any control over. Coming into this experience, I felt comfortable that we were going to be able to trust each other."

Bird added that she didn't think she could have afforded another year away from playing, after having missed last WNBA season following knee surgery. Her most recent WNBA season was 2018, when the Storm won the league championship. She last played competitively for USA Basketball, in November 2019 and in January and February 2020, in Olympic qualifying tournament games and exhibitions.

"If I didn't play basketball this summer, I don't know, I might have been done. And that's just a reality," Bird said. "This isn't me wanting to retire, this isn't me wanting to stop playing.

"The last time I played was like February [2020] with USA Basketball, which was the only a couple games. I didn't play the WNBA season before that, so it's really 2018 [was my last time playing in the league]. So now the sudden, if I don't play this summer, the fall of 2020 goes by ... OK maybe next summer? Who the hell knows with the virus?

"So for me, I was highly motivated to play. I don't think that clouded my judgment in terms of my outlook on the virus."

Bird, who will be competing in her 17th WNBA season, joked that the bubble reminds her a bit of being a kid going off to summer camp.

"But now that we're in it, I don't think there's anything really like this," Bird said. "That's what makes all of this such a unique experience.

"And I'm also excited to be here with the rest of the players. I think from a social justice standpoint, it's very exciting and almost invigorating to be surrounded by people where we believe in the same things, we're kind of on this mission and we want to use this moment, you know, to continue it and to push it forward.

"All of those things kind of played into the decision for me [to play]."