‘You knew there was something unique about her’

Sue Bird was featured in an American Express commercial back in 2003, wearing her Seattle Storm uniform and skipping through a deli crowd as if being introduced at a basketball game, toward a clerk who had called out “Number ten… Number ten!”

This grainy hoot, accessible on YouTube, was a little push toward mainstream fame for Bird, who had helped the UConn women’s basketball team to national championships in 2000 and 2002 before becoming the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft.

All these years later, Bird is coming down the stretch of her final season, about to retire as one of the most successful players and influential women in basketball history, doing so from a platform that she not only skipped and dribbled and high-fived across , but one she essentially built.

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