Each week leading up to the Olympic Games later this summer, we will introduce you to the WNBA players who will be representing their countries in Athens. From first-timers to veteran Olympians, the WNBA's best and brightest stars will be showcasing their skills on the world's biggest stage.

Sue Bird, United States
By Matt Wurst, WNBA.com
The Basics

Country United States
Hometown Syosset, N.Y.
WNBA Team Seattle Storm
Position Guard
Height 5-9
Weight 150 lbs.
Birthday October 16, 1980
Olympic exp. None
Youth doesn't always mean inexperience.

Only 23 years old, Seattle Storm point guard Sue Bird has already accomplished more than most people do in their entire basketball careers: two national championships in college, a world championship gold medal and two First-Team All-WNBA seasons in her first two seasons with the Storm. Ask Sue, and the only two things missing from that resume are a WNBA championship and an Olympic gold medal.

But by the time she turns 24 on October 16, she could very well have accomplished both. The Long Island, New York-native will represent the United States at the Olympic Games next month and is favored to win the gold. Along with teammate Lauren Jackson, who will represent Australia in Athens, Bird has also paced the Storm to a fast start in the 2004 WNBA season and could be a tough team to beat come playoff time.

After capping her four years at UConn with two titles and perfect 39-0 record her senior year, Bird was named the 2002 Naismith Player of the Year and then chosen first overall in the 2002 WNBA Draft by the Seattle Storm. In her rookie season, she helped her team to its best record and first playoff berth in franchise history. In her second season in the league, Bird helped lead Seattle to even more wins. A two-time All-Star and two-time All-WNBA first team selection, Bird was the second leading vote getter for the 2002 WNBA Rookie of the Year honor. She became just the third player in WNBA history to record 200 assists during the 2003 season.

Bird got her first USA Basketball experience just four years ago, and has quickly risen through the ranks. After impressing during the 2002 FIBA World Championship, she returned to the court as a core member of the 2004 USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team. As a point guard, Bird often does the things that might not show up in the box score, but will do whatever it takes to win. During the squad's pre-Olympic preparation, Bird 4.4 ppg. and 3.7 apg. as the U.S. swept its competition in Cuba, Europe and the United States to finish with a 13-0 record during the team's spring training. She was officially named to the team on February 5, 2004.

Bird will be going to her first Olympics
(Bill Baptist/NBAE/Getty Images)
Up close and Personal
Do you have a favorite Olympic moment from when you were growing up?
"When I was a kid, they first put the Dream Team on television. I think I had a Dream Team t-shirt with all of their faces on it."

Do you have a favorite Olympic sport other than basketball?
"I don�t want to call them the weird sports, but I really like sports you don�t get to see all the time. I was actually fascinated by something I saw on television recently � synchronized diving. But I like the track stuff. It is pretty exciting."

Who is your favorite athlete?
"Carl Lewis. And Rulon Gardner. He�s my man."

What were you feeling when you got the call telling you that you were on the team?
It�s unbelievable. It has been a goal of mine since I started playing basketball. I�ve always wanted to be an Olympian. I think being able to represent your country is the ultimate goal. And not only that, you get to play with and against the best players in the world, alongside Dawn, Sheryl, Lisa, and under Van and Anne. It�s going to be an awesome experience and I�m really looking forward to it. I'm very honored."

What is it like to be going to an Olympics?
I�ve only watched the Olympics on television, so to actually experience it all first-hand is going to be pretty incredible. I am looking forward to the Opening ceremonies and the whole experience. I know that the team had stayed in the Olympic village in the past and we have some sort of alternate housing set up. Hopefully we�ll get to be there a couple of nights. I want to get to see some other events, if possible. know some of the girls on the soccer team, so hopefully I�ll be able to watch them play. I�m just going to try and take it all in � enjoy the entire experience.

As one of the younger players, what is it like being with this group of women?
"Our core group has been together and playing for so many years, the third Olympics for a bunch, the second Olympics for a few more, that they know how to do it. They know when it is okay to joke around and be funny, because we can be, and when it�s time for business. We trained a bit before the WNBA season started and the one thing I noticed is that chemistry was not an issue. Everyone knew and accepted their roles on the court. We went out there and took care of business. We�ll have a week to prepare and get back in the swing of things. I expect the same thing once we come back together."

Not everyone is unfamilar. You get to experience this with (former UConn teammates) Swin Cash and Diana Taurasi.
"I love the fact that both Swin and Diana, two people I have been playing with for a long time, will be there alongside me representing the United States. It is a great honor and I�m glad I can share it with them."

How difficult will it be for you to switch gears in the middle of the season like this?
"It�s not that hard. You can switch it without any real difficulty. It is going to be weird, though, playing with Lauren, then against her and against Dawn, then with her. But you just have to switch your mentality. The Olympics are completely different from the WNBA so it�s not hard."

Are you at all worried about fatigue or the wear-and-tear on your body?
"Our WNBA coaches are really cool in that if we need a mental or physical day off, they understand. That was the first thing they said to us coming into training camp this year was that if we needed a break or a rest, that it wouldn�t be a problem. But you know what is so strange? Anne Donovan is the assistant coach for the U.S. and she�s helping Lauren get ready for the Olympics. That�s weird."

Game on Game
Lauren Jackson, Australia forward and Seattle Storm teammate:
"Sue is a great point guard. She is fearless. I�ve seen her go out there and just ball it up every time. I am going to laugh when I have to play against her. I�ll probably pass her the ball. No, I won�t. She�ll probably pass me the ball. I can�t wait. I am really looking forward to it."

Tamika Catchings, U.S. teammate:
"She is just a great point guard. She can make other players better on the court but can also take over and score when she needs to."

Lisa Leslie, U.S. teammate:
"She is cute."

Tina Thompson, U.S. teammate:
"She is so efficient, very efficient."

Svetlana Abrosimova, Team Russia forward:
"We use to play in college and now I go against her on a different stage. She plays great defense and sees the court really well."

DeLisha Milton-Jones, U.S. teammate:
"Sue Bird is one of our younger players, a part of the future of women's basketball and there is a lot she can bring to this game for years to come."

Katie Smith, U.S. teammate:
"She is easygoing and a team player, a really hard worker. Sue always keeps me laughing and she's usually in charge of the music!"

USA Basketball Statistics
2004 WNT 13/0
2002 WC 7/0
2002 OWC 4/0
2000 SEL 1/1
2000 JCUP 4/4

Tina Thompson, USA
Katie Smith, USA
Lauren Jackson, Australia
Lisa Leslie, USA
Tamika Catchings, USA
Swin Cash, USA

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