SEATTLE STORM

Sue Bird’s retirement party spoiled, Aces topple Seattle Storm 89-81

Aug 7, 2022, 2:45 PM | Updated: 2:54 pm

SEATTLE (AP) — A’ja Wilson scored 29 points, Kelsey Plum added 16 including a key 3-pointer in the final minute, and the Las Vegas Aces spoiled the final regular season home game for Sue Bird beating the Seattle Storm 89-81 on Sunday.

Las Vegas Aces 89, Seattle Storm 81: Box score

The largest crowd in Storm history packed Climate Pledge Arena to thank Bird for her two decades as the face of the franchise and one of the best women’s basketball players ever.

But the Aces weren’t willing to play their part in ensuring Bird’s finale was a win. Wilson dominated the first three quarters, Chelsea Gray and Jackie Young both scored 15 and the Aces never trailed the final 28 minutes.

Breanna Stewart finished with a season-high 35 points and Tina Charles added 19.

Bird finished with nine points, six assists and four rebounds, but the result was much like the first game she played in Seattle 20 years ago — a defeat.

“I’m not going to lie, it kind of sucks to lose my last game. But you know what, I lost my first game too. So it’s OK,” Bird joked with the crowd after the final buzzer.

The outcome mattered and didn’t in the same breath. Both Seattle and Las Vegas were jockeying for playoff positioning, and for the Storm the loss was a knock to their chances of having home-court advantage in the first-round of the WNBA playoffs. The Aces kept alive their hopes of catching Chicago for the No. 1 seed going into the final week.

But playoff position was entirely secondary to the focus of the day.

Bird is the WNBA record holder for assists and games played. Whenever this season ends, Bird will retire with five Olympic gold medals and at least four WNBA titles, to go along with the two championships she won at UConn.

“To be so good for so long,” said Las Vegas coach Becky Hammon, who was an opponent of Bird’s in her first WNBA game on May 30, 2002. “A lot of people you have nine to 10 years of being amazing. She’s been amazing for decades which is to me, remarkable.”

Bird was uncertain how her emotions would be prior to the game when all the festivities were taking place. She seemed surprised when leaving the locker room to take the court for pregame warmups and members of her family lined the hallway with fiancee Megan Rapinoe the final one in the receiving line.

Sue Bird at peace for what could be final game in Seattle

The overwhelming wave seemed to hit her during a video tribute just before tipoff that included messages from Rapinoe, LeBron James, Russell Wilson, Chloe Kim, Lauren Jackson and Bird’s college coach Geno Auriemma, and roaring cheers from the 18,100 in attendance, the largest crowd ever for a Storm home game.

“We all know you’re not going away. I’m looking forward to what your next act is,” Auriemma said.

For now, Bird’s next act is trying to make sure the Storm play again on their home floor. Seattle is currently fourth in the standings and with the WNBA’s new playoff format, Seattle would end up hosting the first two games of its opening round series in the playoffs if it can hang on to that spot.

Seattle was without head coach Noelle Quinn after she tested positive for COVID-19 and was in the league’s health and safety protocols.

Last time: Stewart scores 33, Seattle Storm beat Lynx 89-77

Seattle Storm

Seattle Storm guard Sami Whitcomb...

The Associated Press

Red-hot Storm keep rolling, clip Wings 92-84

Jewell Loyd and Skylar Diggins-Smith combine for 40 points as the Seattle Storm beat the Dallas Wings for their eight win in nine games.

12 hours ago

Seattle Storm...

The Associated Press

Ogwumike scores season-high 26, Storm beat Sparks 95-79

Nneka Ogwumike had a season-high 26 points against her former team as the Seattle Storm beat the Los Angeles Sparks.

2 days ago

Caitlin Clark Jewell Loyd Seattle Storm WNBA...

Brent Stecker

Analyst: Why Caitlin Clark not going to Olympics may be what she needs

Seattle Storm broadcaster and hoops analyst Elise Woodward weighed in on Caitlin Clark not making the US Olympics squad with Bump and Stacy.

4 days ago

Seattle Storm Nneka Ogwumike...

Brent Stecker

How Seattle Storm additions have made them a contender in West

The Seattle Storm are just a game back of the WNBA Western Conference lead. Storm broadcaster Elise Woodward shared her view with Bump and Stacy.

4 days ago

Seattle Storm Fever 2024...

The Associated Press

Storm’s six-game win streak ends in 83-64 loss to Lynx

Kayla McBride hit seven 3s and scored 32 points as the Minnesota Lynx beat the Seattle Storm 83-64 to snap their six-game win streak.

5 days ago

Seattle Storm guard Skylar Diggins-Smith...

The Associated Press

Diggins-Smith’s big second half leads Storm past Aces 78-65

Skylar Diggins-Smith scored nine points to a pivotal 11-2 run as the Seattle Storm beat the Las Vegas Aces 78-65.

6 days ago

Sue Bird’s retirement party spoiled, Aces topple Seattle Storm 89-81