Basketball player Sue Bird Breaks All-Time WNBA Career Assists Record

September 1, 2017
by

Ben Shovers

On September 1, 2017, Sue Bird broke the all-time WNBA career assists record, passing Ticha Penicheiro with 2,600 assists. By September 7, 2022, the final game of her illustrious WNBA career, she had accumulated a whopping total of 3,234 assists.  

The Seattle Storm’s Jewish superstar ranks first in WNBA career seasons played, games played, minutes played, total assists, and all-star appearances; second in WNBA history for three-pointers made; third in total career steals; and seventh in total points scored. Bird also led the league in assists per game in three seasons and won four WNBA Championships. In addition, she was a five time All-WNBA First Team member and three time All-WNBA Second Team member. She was voted to the WNBA all-decade teams in the 10th Anniversary and 20th Anniversary seasons, along with being voted one of the 15 and 25 greatest WNBA players of all time in the League’s 15th and 25th Anniversary seasons, respectively.  

On top of her WNBA success, Bird has become a superstar in international professional basketball, winning five Russian National League Championships, five EuroLeague Championships, and two Europe SuperCup Championships. She also holds the record (along with her University of Connecticut  teammate, Diana Taurasi) for most Olympic gold medals of any basketball player in the world, man or woman, with five. She has won five International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Cup medals, including four gold medals. 

During her college days, Bird established many of University of Connecticut’s records. She ranks first in school history in three-point percentage and free throw percentage, second in assists, and seventh in steals. After her freshman year was cut short due to injury, during her sophomore through senior seasons, she was the starting point guard and a vital contributor to a University of Connecticut team that dominated the women’s college basketball landscape. Throughout this period, Bird led the team to a record of 114 wins and four losses, including winning two National Championships and three Big East Championships. She was named the nation’s top point guard in 2000 (winning the Nancy Lieberman Award in its inaugural year) and then proceeded to win the award again in the 2001 and 2002 seasons. In 2002, Bird’s senior season, on top of winning a third straight point guard of the year award, she was awarded five different National Player of the Year awards.

Considering all her career accolades, it is no wonder why many consider Sue Bird the greatest Jewish basketball player of all time. 

This entry was created for This Week in History as part of a course on the history of American Jews and Social Justice taught by Karla Goldman at the University of Michigan, Winter 2023. 

 

Sources:  

Pelton, K. ( “Sue Bird Bids Farewell After Final Game with Seattle Storm: 'I'm proud of everything we've accomplished here.’” ESPN, September 7, 2022, Retrieved March 11, 2023. https://www.espn.com/wnba/story/_/id/34539735/sue-bird-bids-farewell-final-game-seattle-storm-proud-everything-accomplished-here   

Sandala, C. (2022, August 18). “'Thank You Sue': Looking back at Sue Bird's legendary moments throughout her career.” SLAM, August 18, 2022, Retrieved March 11, 2023. https://www.slamonline.com/wnba/look-back-at-sue-bird-legendary-career/   

“Storm vs. mystics - WNBA box score - September 1, 2017.” ESPN, September 1, 2017, Retrieved March 11, 2023. https://www.espn.com/wnba/boxscore/_/gameId/400927585   

“Sue Bird Stats, News, Bio & Games.” WNBA.com - Official Site of the WNBA, January 6, 2023, Retrieved March 11, 2023. https://www.wnba.com/player/sue-bird/   

“WNBA Career Leaders and Records for Assists.” Basketball Reference, 2022, Retrieved March 11, 2023. https://www.basketball-reference.com/wnba/leaders/ast_career.html   

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Basketball player Sue Bird Breaks All-Time WNBA Career Assists Record ." (Viewed on April 12, 2024) <http://jwa.org/thisweek/sep/01/2017/basketball-player-sue-bird-breaks-all-time-wnba-career-assists-record>.