Sue Bird and Tina Charles may be eight years apart in age and six inches apart in height, but their careers are much more intertwined than you’d think.
Their journeys both started at Christ the King Regional High School in Queens, New York, a relatively small private school renowned for churning out tremendous WNBA players. They then carried on to UCONN, where they each won two National Championships during their four year stay with the Huskies – Bird in 2000 and 2002 and Charles in 2009 and 2010.
“Obviously I can joke that she followed me everywhere, but it’s pretty crazy for two people to have the same journey in terms of where they played high school ball, college ball and obviously now we’re in the professional ranks,” Bird said. “In a lot of ways we have the same pedigree, we came from the same place. To have two people do that? It’s pretty impressive.”
Due to their age difference, Bird and Charles never played together in any of their stops during their careers aside from their shared stage of USA Women’s Basketball. Charles talked about when Bird would make appearances at Christ the King and what it means to her that they’re finally on the same team.
“She was years ahead of me, I never got the opportunity to play alongside of her but I had a chance to play against her in practice, she would come back [to Christ the King] when she was in college at UCONN and help us out, give us motivation and confidence out there,” Charles recalled. “It’s pretty cool to now be sharing the playing floor with her.”
As members of the 2012 Women’s National Team, they captured gold medals in London and will look to do the same in Brazil in the coming weeks.
Bird also touched upon their interesting connection and how their relationship has evolved over the years, from knowing of each other to becoming close.
“Whether we actually knew each other or not, we’ve known each other for a long time,” Bird said of their shared journey. “I do think there’s a bond there – we’re both from New York, we’re huge Knick fans so we bond over that and I think we’ve become really good friends over the last six or seven years,” Bird said.
Charles echoed Bird’s sentiment about their friendship and even shed some light on one of their trips.
“We’re really good friends – two years ago, we vacationed together in Jamaica,” Charles explained. “She’s a great person if I need anything, I know I can call her. If I need any advice, she’ll always let me know to be patient with my game. The trust that she has in me as a player .. it gives you a lot of confidence because of the player she is.”
Bird and Charles will look to continue to grow together in Rio as teammates, Olympians and friends. Their main goal, however, is capturing their second gold medal together.