With the Storm pulling away late Wednesday to defeat the WNBA-leading Las Vegas Aces 88-78, Seattle point guard Sue Bird notched her 324th career victory and became the winningest player in league history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Bird, who announced earlier this month that this will be her final WNBA season, surpassed retired point guard Lindsay Whalen (323). Bird and Whalen are the lone two players in league history to play in at least 300 wins. Rebekkah Brunson and Swin Cash, the latter of whom played four seasons in Seattle with Bird, are tied for third at 294.
"That's amazing," said Storm coach Noelle Quinn, who played with Bird before retiring and joining the team's coaching staff. "She would probably say it's because she's old. That's always the response. Just the longevity of an amazing player to have such impact on the game.
"It's not only the assists with Sue, it's making big plays, the big shots. I thought she played great defense tonight. Those intangibles that she brings, but also: She's the GOAT, an amazing player with a long career and deserving of every single record she's about to break because she's played 20-something years."
Indeed, Bird downplayed the accomplishment -- like she did when she became the WNBA's all-time leader in games and minutes played, joining the assists record she broke in 2017 -- as a product of the 19 seasons she has played since being drafted by Seattle No. 1 out of Connecticut back in 2002. She noted that Whalen accomplished the record in fewer games (480 to Bird's 564).
Las Vegas coach Becky Hammon, who was playing for the opposing New York Liberty in Bird's WNBA debut (a Storm loss), gave Bird more credit.
"It says she's been on a lot of good teams for a very long time," Hammon said. "She's always the head of the snake -- I mean that in a good way. She is who she is for a reason. She just repeatedly makes the right play, whatever that is."
Seattle's strong fourth quarter, powered by 11 points from Jewell Loyd and eight from Breanna Stewart, overshadowed the Storm debut of former WNBA MVP Tina Charles. Charles, who signed with Seattle as a free agent on Tuesday after reaching a contract buyout with the Mercury, came off the bench for the first time in her WNBA career.
According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Charles had started more games to begin her career (373) than any other player in league history before coming off the bench for the first time. Charles surpassed Whalen's former teammate Seimone Augustus, who started her first 363 games before coming off the bench in 2019.
Charles had 4 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal in 16 minutes in her debut.
Ultimately, the night belonged to Bird, whose milestone was far bigger than her 13 points and six assists in 25 minutes.
"She's a winner," Loyd summed it up.