UConn alum, WNBA star Bird is 'taking it easy' in recovery from surgery on left knee

Published on Monday, 17 June 2019 21:11
Written by Carl Adamec

Journal Inquirer

MOHEGAN RESER-VATION - Sue Bird doesn’t have time for the pain.

The four-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time WNBA champion with the Seattle Storm out of the University of Connecticut had surgery on her left knee on May 30. She has no timetable for a possible return to the Storm lineup.

“It’s been super-easy recovering so far,” Bird said Sunday after Seattle’s 81-67 loss to the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena. “I’m taking it easy because they had to do a little more than they anticipated. The first six weeks are boring for me. But I can’t complain because this has been an experience where I didn’t realize just how much pain I had been in until it’s gone.”

Bird’s latest surgery to repair a loose bone in her knee was performed by Dr. Michael Joyce at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford.

There were reports that the estimated recovery time would be 8-10 weeks.

“I don’t know who got a timetable from where because there was no way of knowing what it was until Dr. Joyce went in,” Bird said. “As it turned out they couldn’t do it arthroscopically. He had to do an incision on the side. Timetables were a question mark to begin with. I don’t have one. It depends how I respond at this point. It’s not a typical surgery where you can go, ‘Oh, meniscus tear, four-to-six weeks.’ It wasn’t like that.”

Bird averaged 10.1 points and 7.1 assists last summer as Seattle won its third WNBA championship to go with the ones it captured in 2004 and 2010. The Syosset, New York, native then captured a record fifth medal (four gold, one bronze) as Team USA won gold at the 2018 FIBA World Cup in Spain.

The win in Spain gave the Americans a berth in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo where Bird and former UConn teammate Diana Taurasi could become the first basketball players to win five gold medals.

She said that last month’s surgery was different than others she has had.

“Usually there’s not instant relief, but I literally felt instant relief,” Bird said. “My range of motion is much greater than it was. I couldn’t really straighten it. I couldn’t really bend it all the way. I’ve got that back and it’s made a world of difference. Forget basketball. It’s made a world of difference in my life. It’s nice to have instant relief and it will extend to on the court once I get back.”

When that will be, Bird - who turns 39 in October and was recently for a front office job with the NBA’s Denver Nuggets in basketball operations - does not know.

“I’m hoping to be healthy,” Bird said. “For me that means being smart and doing what I have to do to make sure I’m 100 percent. Do I love the fact that I potentially might have to miss the season? No, I hate it. Do I think it’s the end of the world? No. Hopefully time doesn’t run out on me. I think at this point in my career I can’t be stupid.”

Earlier in the spring, the Storm lost reigning WNBA Most Valuable Player Breanna Stewart with a torn right Achilles’ tendon suffered in the EuroLeague title game while playing for Dynamo Kursk.

Bird has stayed in touch with her fellow UConn graduate.

“Stewie’s doing well,” Bird said. “It’s tough. It’s tough for anybody especially when it’s your first time having a major injury. I’m sure there are highs and lows for her but for the most part she’s making the best of it. There are pressures to go fast and be ahead of schedule. But Stewie knows. She has her eye on the prize. She knows what’s ahead and that’s a long career for her.”

Seattle fell to 5-4 with its loss to the Sun, but has played seven of nine on the road.

The Storm are home for eight of their next nine games starting Friday with Los Angeles.

“That’s extremely impressive,” Bird said of the Storm’s road mark. “No matter who you have on the court, it says a lot about your toughness. Even today, though it didn’t go our way, it was the fourth game of a four-game trip and I think we were a little gassed at the end. But we were right there with what is now the best team in the league. It says a lot about the talent we have, the mental toughness we have, and it speaks to their character and we’ll continue to build on it.”

Posted in The Bristol Press, UConn on Monday, 17 June 2019 21:11. Updated: Monday, 17 June 2019 21:14.