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Sue Bird returns to the WNBA, this time tackling ownership

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - JUNE 11: Sue Bird acknowledges the crowd before the game between the Seattle Storm and the Washington Mystics at Climate Pledge Arena on June 11, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Sue Bird acknowledges the crowd before the game between the Seattle Storm and the Washington Mystics at Climate Pledge Arena on June 11, 2023 in Seattle, Washington.

The legendary basketball star has joined the Seattle Storm ownership group.

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On Wednesday, the Seattle Storm announced that legendary former player Sue Bird has joined the team's ownership group, Force 10 Hoops, ahead of the 2024 WNBA season.

Bird, the Storm's No. 1 pick of the 2002 draft, played her entire 19-season WNBA career in Seattle before retiring at the end of the 2022 campaign as the league's all-time leader in games played and assists. She started as point guard for all four of Seattle's championship teams and tied for the most of any WNBA franchise.

"As a player, I poured my heart into every game for the Seattle Storm, and now, as part of the ownership group, I am thrilled to continue contributing to the growth of the game," Bird said in a news release. "Investing in women's sports isn't just about passion; it's smart business. It's about recognizing the immense talent, dedication, and market potential our league has always had."

"Force 10 Hoops and the Storm have been at the forefront of this for decades. Together, we're not just shaping the future of basketball, but also paving the way for a more equitable and inclusive society," Bird also stated in the release.

The Los Angeles Sparks' Lisa Leslie was the first former WNBA player to join a team ownership group in 2011. Bird's former teammate Renee Montgomery was part of the group that purchased the Atlanta Dream in 2021. Although Bird is new to WNBA ownership, she previously invested in reigning NWSL champion NJ/NY Gotham FC in her native New York while still an active player in 2022.

This moment is full circle as Bird has spoken publicly in the past about the potential of becoming part of the ownership group.

"Not right now, but ownership is definitely something that I would love to consider and be a part of at some point," Bird said when the team retired her No. 10 jersey last June. "I'm already with the NWSL -- I'm an investor with Gotham -- so we'll see."

The Storm's ownership group is led by three former season-ticket holders, Lisa Brummel, Ginny Gilder, and Dawn Trudeau. They created Force 10 Hoops to purchase the team in 2008 from the owners who moved the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City.

"We are thrilled to welcome Sue into the ownership group after a storied career on the court," Brummel stated in the release. "Her knowledge of the game and the league, her ever-expanding business acumen, and her dedication to the Storm organization, make her a superb addition to the ownership group."

The Wall Street Journal reported last year that Seattle had sold minority ownership stakes at a historic $151 million valuation to raise capital for the team's new practice facility and headquarters, which opened last week. The Storm has yet to identify those investors.

The WNBA has seen other recently retired athletes across various sports leagues join team ownership groups in recent years. Baseball star Alex Rodriguez is part of the group currently in mediation to purchase a majority stake in the Minnesota Lynx and the NBA's Timberwolves. Meanwhile, NFL star Tom Brady (Las Vegas Aces) and NBA star Dwyane Wade (Chicago Sky) became minority investors last year.

As additions to the ownership roster in the WNBA expand, the league is set to continue growing and fostering basketball that drives fan support and revenue.

The 28th WNBA season tips off on May 14, 2024.

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Daric L. Cottingham

Daric L. Cottingham (she/her), Deputy Editor of PRIDE.com, is an award-winning news, culture, and entertainment journalist. She is a proud Southern Black trans woman based in Los Angeles holding a mass communications degree from Prairie View A&M University in Texas and a master's in Sports & Entertainment journalism from the University of Southern California. Beyond her career portfolio, which includes the LA Times, Spotify, and freelancing for publications like BuzzFeed, Harper's Bazaar, ESSENCE, The Washington Post, etc., she does advocacy work as a general board member of NABJLA, striving to make the industry more inclusive for Black journalists.

Daric L. Cottingham (she/her), Deputy Editor of PRIDE.com, is an award-winning news, culture, and entertainment journalist. She is a proud Southern Black trans woman based in Los Angeles holding a mass communications degree from Prairie View A&M University in Texas and a master's in Sports & Entertainment journalism from the University of Southern California. Beyond her career portfolio, which includes the LA Times, Spotify, and freelancing for publications like BuzzFeed, Harper's Bazaar, ESSENCE, The Washington Post, etc., she does advocacy work as a general board member of NABJLA, striving to make the industry more inclusive for Black journalists.