How UConn great Sue Bird brought HS coach on her ‘wonderful trip’


Bob Mackey coached a teenage Sue Bird for two years at Christ the King High and for even longer with the New York Liberty Belles AAU program, so he has drawn from a healthy reservoir of on-court memories while watching Bird take over the sport in the quarter-century since.

What first comes to mind, though, is a long, dark trip from Queens to Atlantic City, New Jersey, sometime in the mid-1990s. Mackey was driving. The van was packed with teenage basketball players. All were asleep. Except one.

“Sue was never boring,” Mackey said. “She was a live wire. It was pouring rain. You can’t see. But Sue is awake, playing songs, and we’re doing musical trivia. She was just always, like, on. It was OK, no problem. She kept me awake the whole ride. That kid was a nonstop bundle of energy.”

That kid would wind up winning on every stage of basketball, all over the world, from her state high school title, to two national championships at UConn, to four titles with the Seattle Storm, to five Olympic gold medals and beyond.

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