Storm legend Sue Bird joins franchise's ownership group

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

Bird, the No. 1 pick of the 2002 draft by the Storm, 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 at point guard for all four of Seattle's championship teams, 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."

Lisa Leslie of the Los Angeles Sparks was the first former WNBA player to join a team ownership group in 2011, while 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.

Given Bird's close ties to Seattle and the Storm, she 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, who created Force 10 Hoops to purchase the team in 2008 from the same owners who moved the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City. Anne Levinson, the fourth founding co-owner of Force 10 Hoops, exited the group in 2010.

"We are thrilled to welcome Sue into the ownership group after a storied career on the court," Brummel said 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."

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

In addition to a handful of former WNBA players, the league has seen other recently retired athletes join team ownership groups in recent years. Baseball star Alex Rodriguez is part of the group whose attempt to purchase a majority stake in the Minnesota Lynx and the NBA's Timberwolves is currently headed to mediation, while NFL star Tom Brady (Las Vegas Aces) and NBA star Dwyane Wade (Chicago Sky) became minority investors last year.