Sue Bird’s unblemished 17-year Olympic career came to an end with a record fifth gold medal.
After a 90-75 win over Japan on Sunday at the Tokyo Olympics, she and longtime US teammate Diana Taurasi have won five gold medals, making them the first basketball players to do so.
“Couldn’t have asked for a better ending. There’s really not much else to say,” Bird said. “I feel so proud I’ve been able to wear this uniform for as long as I have, to play along side this one as long as I have, We’ve won, and that’s obviously the story, but I don’t think there’s anyone else I’d rather do it with because we just have so much fun and I love you homie.”
The United States has now won seven consecutive Olympic gold medals, tying the country’s men’s program for the most ever. From 1936 to 1968, the men did it.
They have been a constant force for the United States, providing stability for the women’s program since the 2004 Athens Games, with Bird orchestrating the flow of games and Taurasi’s scoring. They’ve won all 38 games they’ve competed in at the Olympics.
The two walked off the court for the final time Sunday, arm-in-arm, knowing their work was done. While Bird has retired, Taurasi has stated that she will return to the Olympics for a sixth time.
“See you in Paris!,” Taurasi said.
The names of the greats Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes, Tina Thompson, Tamika Catchings, and Sylvia Fowles have changed around the pair, but the results haven’t.
The Americans have won 55 consecutive Olympic games, dating back to the 1992 Barcelona Games bronze medal game.
On Sunday, the US informed Japan that this would not change.
Brittney Griner’s dominant first quarter propelled the Americans to an 18-5 lead. After one quarter, the team was up 23-14, with Griner scoring 10 points and taking advantage of the Japanese team’s size disadvantage. Japan closed to within six points in the second quarter before the Americans took an 11-point lead into halftime and never looked back.
Bird and Taurasi embraced as the final buzzer sounded, then proceeded to hug all of their teammates and the coaching staff.
Griner had a 30-point performance, hitting 14 of her 18 shots.
While Bird has announced her retirement, the United States has a bright future thanks to Griner, Breanna Stewart, and the six newcomers on this year’s team. This included A’ja Wilson, who will be expected to continue the streak three years from now at the Paris Games in 2024. Wilson, who turned 25 on Sunday, made a strong impression in her Olympic debut, scoring 19 points in the gold medal game.