Sue Bird is the WNBA’s oldest player, but you wouldn’t have guessed it watching this month’s playoffs.
Case in point: Her incredible fourth quarter performance that helped the Seattle Storm get to the WNBA Finals last week.
Sue Bird is the oldest player in the @WNBA.
That didn't stop her from dropping FOURTEEN in the final 5:48 to send Seattle to the Finals 🔥 pic.twitter.com/jCqw1cyDsB
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 5, 2018
And then, during Game 2 of the Finals against Washington on Sunday, she did this:
THIS IS HOW YOU BRING THE HOUSE DOWN! 🙌🙌🙌
— Seattle Storm (@seattlestorm) September 9, 2018
Bird, who turns 38 next month, is being hailed as “transcendent,” and “the Benjamin Button of the WNBA.” In an interview with The Athletic, sports journalist Holly Rowe described Bird, who has logged more than 500 pro games, as “the oldest player in the league playing in the freshest way.”
So how is she doing it? How is she still beating her competition at the game’s highest level, nearly two decades after she won national championships at the University of Connecticut and was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 WNBA Draft? And after 500 games and 10 surgeries?
Tech and sports science have played a big role.
Speaking of sleep, Bird said it’s now a big emphasis for the Storm and gave credit to Susan King Borchadt, the team’s sports performance consultant, for axing morning shoot-arounds on game days in favor of letting the players get extra rest.
The 11-time All Star said she also spent time at P3, a well-known sports performance center that uses an array of sensors and motion analysis to show athletes how they can improve. For Bird, she learned that she tends to hunch forward too much when moving laterally and doesn’t point her toes down far enough when landing.
“Nowadays, the difference between athletes is really small, and if you can get an edge, why not take it,” Bird said.
In a GQ profile from June, Bird said she changed her diet and workout regime as the four-time Olympic gold medalist entered the third leg of her career. She also revealed that she uses a blood flow restriction system called B Strong, and NormaTec, a rapid recovery tool that uses compressed air.
Bird doesn’t eat dairy or gluten, and opts for plenty of anti-inflammatory foods. Her “new thing” is rice bowls with sweet potatoes, chicken, and mixed veggies.
Before and during games, she has a supplement drink called Vitargo. After games, she drinks a protein shake with almond milk, orange juice, fruit, and whey protein.
The Storm are up 2-0 in the best-of-five WNBA Finals. Game 3 is Wednesday at 5 p.m. PT in Washington.