WNBA legends Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird meet on the court for the final time as the 17-9 Seattle Storm plays the 11-16 Phoenix Mercury on July 22.
That’s close to the age of 40-year-old Phoenix Mercury point guard Diana Taurasi, and it’s nearly the age of 41-year-old Seattle Storm point guard Sue Bird.
But 37 years is also the amount of time that these two WNBA icons have played in the league combined. Bird is in her 19th season — the final one of her career — while Taurasi is in her 18th season.
There are few professional athletes who are playing into their forties, and even fewer who have any generational rivals that remain in the game. When Bird was draft No. 1 overall back in 2002, the W was just six years young. In 26 years, the league, and its legends, have come a long way.
Tonight, Bird and Taurasi face off for what’s expected to be the last time, and the WNBA world is wishing these two farewell as they say goodbye to one of the greatest rivalries in sports (especially when it comes to possessions).
Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird face each other for the final time on WNBA court
ESPN’s Michelle Voepel expounded on the close friendship that these two titans enjoy, noting the auspicious nature of their 46th meeting.
“It will be the 46th time they have met in the WNBA regular season, with Bird holding a 25-20 edge. That ties for the most head-to-head regular-season meetings between players in the league. Tamika Catchings and Swin Cash and Lindsay Whalen and Candice Dupree also met 46 times.”
Considering how the Storm has fared so far this season, and considering that the Mercury is struggling to make it to the postseason, tonight’s game could easily give Bird the win for a 26-20 record against Taurasi.
No matter who wins the game, the Bird-Taurasi matchup will be a true celebration of the game and its great players. As much as the WNBA world wants to give the Bird and Taurasi rivalry a proper farewell, it’s hard to offer a decent send-off when the game isn’t even airing on ESPN.
ESPN has two stories and a video for tonight’s Seattle-Phoenix game — a game they aren’t even showing on TV! And sure, it’s great to highlight Sue and Diana’s dynamic.
But seeing this in the same week that they disrespected a young Black superstar in women’s hoops is … 🤔
— Alex Simon (@AlexSimonSports) July 22, 2022
Instead, the game will be airing on NBATV.
WNBA journalists and fans are reflecting on two decades of friendship, fun and elite basketball, as Bird and Taurasi went from playing college hoops together and being Team USA teammates to facing off in the W for decades.
As emotional as the moment is for anyone who’s enjoyed watching their friendship over the years, there’s also a lot to smile about — like when Taurasi professed her hatred of rookies.
With how much the league is working to increase coverage and visibility of its athletes, it’s a showdown that rightfully should be front and center on major television networks — especially with how much these two have given to the game.