As the WNBA conducts online voting to select a "GOAT" as part of the league's 25th anniversary celebration, Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird -- the only player among the league's 25 candidates announced Sunday to play with or against all other 24 players on the list -- has her choice for who is the greatest of all time: Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi.
"There's no question in my mind who it is," Bird said Tuesday before the Storm hosted the Washington Mystics. "I know that there might be some bias there, which I totally own -- maybe even generational bias just because I've been able to witness her firsthand, been her teammate [at the University of Connecticut and with USA Basketball], been her opponent. Just the way in which she's played the game.
"I've always said it's really what separates her, I think. Yes, it's the amazing play. Yes, it's the championships and the winning, of course. But the other two things are her style and the swag with which she did it and the last thing -- which to me is the most important -- is the fact that she's been able to make her teammates better. There's something about her style that's infectious. Whoever's on the court with her raises their game. I think for me that's why she's the GOAT."
Bird, who has teamed with seven of the "W25" players on the Storm as well as most of the rest while winning a record five gold medals for the U.S. alongside Taurasi, recognizes that others have strong cases.
"I could sit here and make arguments for everybody," she said. "Maybe I'm lucky that [Diana's] my best friend because it makes it easier for me to just say her because there are some legit arguments, two of which came from this franchise.
"Stewie [Breanna Stewart] is a little bit of a baby GOAT because she has a long way to go, but if you took her name off and took her age off, you'd think it was a hell of a career and she's just getting started. And obviously, I could talk about Lauren [Jackson] all day. But it doesn't stop there -- I've played with Lisa [Leslie], Tina [Thompson]. The list goes on and on, so I've been really lucky."
Of course, the list of candidates includes Bird herself. Winning a fourth title with the Storm in 2020 moved Bird behind only Rebekkah Brunson (five) in league history. Bird is also the WNBA's all-time leader in assists (more than 400 ahead of runner-up Ticha Penicheiro) and All-Star appearances (12, two more than anyone else).
Still, she doesn't take her own GOAT candidacy -- or the debate itself -- seriously.
"I think it's a fun conversation," Bird said. "It's the kind of thing where you're out maybe with some friends, out to dinner, talking trash and you get into it. Today I could answer Diana, tomorrow I could say Maya [Moore]. That's what's kind of fun about these conversations. Even though I do have my choice, more than anything I think they're just great conversation starters. It's great that people are having the arguments."