“A lot of times as a UConn player, I feel like the fans look at us like family,” Bird said. “And they stay with us through our careers. That’s something that I treasure, something I’ve really enjoyed every time I came back here. So, tonight was a perfect way to end that. I would have preferred a win, but I’ll take it.”
Two other former UConn stars, Breanna Stewart and Gabby Williams led Seattle with 17 and 16 points respectively.
Bird, who plans to retire at the end of this season, hit her first two shots of the game — both 3-pointers — and had eight points in helping Seattle to an early 18-8 lead. The Storm led 24-21 after a quarter.
But Connecticut closed the first half on an 11-3 run. A one-handed set shot from Thomas gave Connecticut its first lead just before halftime and Connecticut went into the break up 44-40 and led 72-68 after three quarters.
Williams tied the game at 83 with a steal, a nice spin move and a layup. But Natisha Hiedeman hit a 3-pointer at the other end for Connecticut. Neither team could hit a shot from the floor over the final 2:42, with Stewart missing three for Seattle and Connecticut held on for the win.
The game was played in front of 9,137 fans, the first sellout in Uncasville since the 2019 WNBA Finals and many were there to see Bird. They gave the 41-year-old a standing ovation during a pregame ceremony and another during player introductions.
“I appreciate that they honor and welcome back the UConn players,” said Sun coach Curt Miller. “But through and through they are Sun fans, and I appreciate that balance.”
Stephanie Brune, 28, of Lakeville, Massachusetts, wore a goat’s-head hat, complete with horns, and said she considers Bird the greatest of all time.