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Monday, August 26, 2002
Sue Bird

Page 2

Sue Bird won two NCAA championships and just about every individual award imaginable in women's college basketball. Then the UConn star was the No. 1 pick in the 2002 WNBA draft and led the Seattle Storm to the first playoff appearance in their history.

Sue Bird
Sue Bird has some casting suggestions for a movie about the UConn Huskies.
We figure that you know about all that, so we dug a little deeper when Page 2's Kevin Jackson caught up with Bird for 10 Burning Questions last week. We wanted to know about her obsession with her ponytail, how she ended up with Nick Carter at the ESPYs, why she dreams of being invisible and what happened when she compared her Storm coach (female) to a cast member (male) of "The Sopranos."

But as usual, Bird handled our full-court press with ease.

1. Page 2: What's your favorite sports movie?

Sue Bird: There are so many that's it hard to narrow them down. For a basketball movie and a classic movie, I'd pick "Hoosiers." It's just a classic story. For an entertaining basketball movie, I'd pick "Blue Chips."

Is there a sports movie that you've watched for motivation?

Bird: Ru-dy! Ru-dy! Ru-dy! No, not really "Rudy." Back in CYO, which is like intramural basketball when you're a little kid, we used to watch "Hoosiers."

How about your favorite overall movie?

Bird: I like "The Rock." I like "Big Daddy" -- I am an Adam Sandler fan. Those are probably my two favorites.

If they make a sports movie about the UConn women's basketball team, who would you want to play Sue Bird?

Bird: Sandra Bullock. I don't know if she can play basketball, but they can edit that part. She's one of my favorite actresses.

Who plays Geno Auriemma?

Bird: Maybe Ray Liotta. I'm trying to think of an Italian actor. No, wait, it's got to be Marlon Brando in his prime. Yeah, Marlon Brando in his prime. Make sure Geno sees that.

Nick Carter, Sue Bird
Nick Carter's not Bird's Backstreet Boy toy.
2. How often have you been asked the question about losing so many games in the WNBA after losing only nine times in your career at UConn?

Bird: Oh God, so many times. Probably 60.

Really? That many times?

Bird: Yes, it was like every interview. But it stopped about halfway through the season.

What's the worst question you've been asked this year?

Bird: Probably all the questions in regard to Nick Carter (of the Backstreet Boys). I get those questions a lot.

OK, well, add us to the list. How'd you end up at the ESPYs with Nick Carter?

Bird: We have the same agent, so it was kind of like arranged as a publicity stunt.

Had you met before?

Bird: No. ... well, actually, you know what, we had met once, and it was like a "Hey, how are you? See you later" at my agency. So we're friends now.

Are you a fan of the Backstreet Boys?

Bird: I like some of their songs, but not particularly.

3. Are you intrigued by the fact so many people are now interested in your love life?

Bird: Yeah, it's kind of weird. I'm not intrigued by it, but it's still kind of weird that all these people ask me all these questions about it.

When did that start? Did you get that all the way back in college?

Bird: No, it basically started after the ESPYs. In college, the media didn't really question anything about your personal life ... it was mostly just basketball. But in the pros, it's like everything is fair game. It's freaky.

Sue Bird
Bird, throwing out the first pitch at a Mariners game, had other ideas if a basketball career didn't work out.
4. If you weren't in the WNBA, what would you be doing?

Bird: I'd probably be doing what all the rest of my friends are doing and searching for a job.

What was your major?

Bird: Communications.

So you might want to be doing some stuff here with us at ESPN?

Bird: Yeah. I'd like to be commentating or something like that.

5. There's a lot of talk about how important appearance is for female athletes, especially with the controversy in the LPGA. How much should how a person looks be a factor in their endorsements and exposure?

Bird: In terms of the sport they play, I don't think it should be a factor at all. If they're good at what they do, they're good. It doesn't matter what they look like. Now, if certain athletes want to become models or do ads or things like that, that's a whole different category. And, if they have the looks, they should go do what they want.

How do you feel about the LPGA recommending that its golfers dress a certain way and try to be more appealing?

Bird: I have mixed emotions. I don't really know that much about the LPGA, but I know for the WNBA, we're trying to get fans to our games and if that's what's going to be the initial thing to get the fan in the seat, well then I'm all for it. Once the fans are there, they'll probably appreciate the basketball being played. And it's probably the same for golf.

Are you comfortable with the WNBA marketing its game to the gay and lesbian community -- some teams have done specific promotional nights?

Bird: A fan is a fan to me. That group of people is the same as a family. There are a lot of different groups of people, so like I said, a fan is a fan.

6. In your interview with Dan Patrick, you said Storm coach Lin Dunn resembled Paulie Walnuts of "The Sopranos." Was there any fallout from that?

Bird: No, she never said a word. So, hopefully, I don't think she saw it. But my teammates saw it, and they were all laughing. It was just for ha-has.

Sue Bird
Bird of prey: The Storm star hunts for food at Seattle's Pike Place market.
7. Your teammates say that you're obsessed with your ponytail. What's up with that?

Bird: It's just a nervous habit. I always like it to be perfect, so I'm always putting it up.

Who's the toughest player for you to go up against?

Bird: Defensively, it's Shannon Johnson. Keeping up with her is tough. When I'm on offense, it's definitely Jennifer Azzi. She blocked my shot twice ... and she's my height!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? And where do you see the WNBA?

Bird: In 10 years, I'll be 31. So, hopefully, I'll be married and have a few kids running around. And depending on how I feel, I might still be playing. As far as the WNBA, the league will probably have improved by leaps and bounds. Ten years is a long time. There will probably be a girl on every team throwing it down.

OK, so is the dunk good or bad for women's basketball?

Bird: I think it's great. It brings another dimension to the game. I think now it will open the doors for more people to do it. I'd like to see (my Seattle teammate) Lauren (Jackson) and everybody else to do it for the little people out there, like me, who can't even touch the rim.

8. If you could have one mulligan for your career -- something you could go back and do over -- what would it be?

Bird: Probably my junior year in college. We won my sophomore year, and we won my senior year, but in my junior year, we blew it in the Final Four. So I'd probably go back and change that.

If you were giving yourself an ESPY award for your career highlight, what would it be?

Bird: Probably hitting the game-winning shot against Notre Dame in the Big East Championship my junior year.

OK, tough question: UConn's 2002 team vs. its 2000 team. Now, you've got to play against yourself here, but who wins?

Bird: I'll have to go with 2002, although 2000 would definitely give us a run for our money. The 2002 senior class had played together for so much longer, that would be an advantage, whereas the 2000 team was a lot of different classes coming together.

Sue Bird
Seattle is 7-2 when Sue Bird dishes out at least 10 assists.
9. If you could have one superpower ...?

Bird: I'd be invisible.

So, you've seen this question before where we ask whether you'd want to be invisible, have the strength of 100 men or the ability to fly?

Bird: Yeah, I kind of know what you guys are going to ask. And I'd definitely want to be invisible.

So you've given this some thought. What would you do with your invisibility?

Bird: Oh, man. The world would be mine. I mean, what couldn't I do. I could go wherever I wanted. I'd definitely be checking out a lot of stuff.

Maybe you could venture into the Tennessee locker room, steal the game plan and fax it to Geno?

Bird: Yeah, I could see what was going on there.

10. If you could invite three people -- living or dead -- to your ideal dinner party, who would they be?

Bird: Well, Brad Pitt ... for obvious reasons. My friend Brad, because he's very funny. And Anna Kournikova for Brad. That would make him happy.