Bird and her teammates were triumphant in Saturday's final. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images Sport)

Bird Returns with Gold

Kevin Pelton, | August 14, 2012

Tired but buoyed by the excitement of winning a gold medal, Seattle Storm point guard Sue Bird returned to practice Tuesday on the Seattle Pacific University campus, three days removed from leading the U.S. women to an 86-50 victory over France in the gold-medal game in London.

"I'm very tired," Bird told reporters. "I really would like to sleep. I'm a little jet-lagged."

Yet she still made the effort to attend practice the morning after flying back to Seattle. After a brief chance to celebrate, Bird will turn her attention to the second half of the WNBA season, starting with Thursday's game against the Phoenix Mercury (7:00 p.m., KONG 6/16, 1090 AM, ).

Sue Bird poses with her gold medal from the 2012 Olympics.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images

Bird shows off the latest addition to her collection of three gold medals.

"I didn't really practice much today - just got in a couple drills to get my feet wet again, get familiar," said Bird. "It has been a while; I've been gone for a month. I'll be practicing tomorrow and then, hopefully, we can put on a good show against Phoenix."

Making a quick transition from one team to another is nothing new for Bird. Besides her past two Olympic experiences, and going from playing in Russia to the WNBA, she did the same thing last month when the USA team gathered to prepare for the Olympics a day after the Storm finished out its pre-Olympic Break schedule with a win over the same Mercury.

Unlike their competition in London, the U.S. women had just a couple of weeks to come together. That progress was one of Bird's takeaways from the Olympics.

"Of course, winning a gold medal is very exciting," she said. "There's really nothing like it. It was kind of a process the last month to come together and get better and jell in a short amount of time. For us to have to bring it all together really, really quickly, to be able to do that the way we did, it was gratifying. I had a lot of fun and made great memories."

Besides the action on the court, the Olympic experience was a fun one for Bird, even if she wasn't able to attend as many other events as usual - just the men's basketball action, cheering on the USA other gold-medal winners, and water polo.

"London was really cool," Bird said. "The city itself was a lot of fun. I had never been. It's a very cool place, a place that I can confidently say I would love to go back and visit and just spend some time there. The organization of everything was great. I guess the only downside - a double-edged sword - all the events were packed, which was great. It was great to have full gyms when we played. On the flip side of that, it was tough to get tickets to other events, so I didn't get a chance to see as much as I would have liked."

Along with teammates Tamika Catchings and Diana Taurasi, Bird won her third gold medal. Just two women's basketball players - Teresa Edwards, who has five total medals, and Lisa Leslie - have collected more golds. Bird might have an opportunity to join them in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. While Bird jokingly went along with Taurasi, who answered NBC's Craig Sager by declaring after the game she will play in Rio, her response Tuesday about the possibility was more measured.

"I think you need to ask me when it gets a little closer," she said. "I'll be 35 by then, so it's a different thing when you're dealing with age. I'll see how I feel, I guess."

Bird and her teammates toasted the gold with friends and family at a private party that lasted until the rest of London was waking up for the final day of the Olympics. So while there was only a quick turnaround before returning to the Storm, Bird felt she had ample time to enjoy the accomplishment.

"I definitely celebrated," Bird said. "I feel good in that department."

Now it's back to trying to win more games and create more memories in the WNBA. From what she could tell in a practice setting, Bird saw results from the work the rest of the team did over the last two weeks of practice - a second training camp, of sorts - while she was busy competing in London.

"They've put in offenses, things that I'm going to have to learn," she said. "I know they've improved because I know Brian (Agler), I know the coaching staff. There's really no other option when you're in a training camp setting with coaches like that. They look great. I know they've been working really hard and practicing. I'm sure they're definitely ready for games. "

Thursday's game marks the start of a seven-game homestand that will keep the Storm in Seattle past Labor Day Weekend. The extended stretch of home games gives the team an opportunity to build momentum for the stretch run.

"It's huge," said Bird. "Personally, I'm very glad to be home - really. If we had to travel, that would be tough. It's important. We obviously do well at home and it's a place where we're comfortable, so to get the second half of the season started that way is going to be great. We kind of paid our dues in a way having to play on the road so much early on. Hopefully now we can benefit from being at home."

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