Mohegan Sun shows love for UConn great Sue Bird one day after her WNBA retirement announcement

UNCASVILLE — While the Seattle Storm headed down the tunnel from the court to their locker room an hour before tipoff Friday night, Cali Durham charged up the Mohegan Sun Arena stairs, waving precious cargo.

“I asked her to sign this,” Durham, 10, said, holding a small Pride Month poster she’d made, “and my friend, too, and she did.”

Durham was wearing one of several green-and-yellow Seattle No. 10 jerseys dotting the stands Friday night as Sue Bird, UConn legend turned WNBA legend, came to town for the second-to-last time as a pro to play the Connecticut Sun. Bird announced Thursday that this season would be her last.

The Storm, also featuring UConn alumnae Breanna Stewart and Gabby Williams, drew a solid hand as they came out for the pregame shootaround from a crowd that stretched into the upper tier of the arena.

All three Huskies products were starters. All three got applause when they were announced. Bird, called out last, drew a roar as most o f the crowd of 7,088 jumped to their feet.

“Of course it means a lot,” Bird said after the game. “Especially being in Connecticut, it was kind of funny to walk out there and see so much green and yellow in the stands.”

Some of the fans wore Bird’s jersey. One, behind the scorer’s table, waved Bird’s UConn jersey. Others…

“There was a bunch of people courtside: Two guys had” — Bird chuckled — “my Sports Illustrated Swimsuit picture, like, on a T-shirt. That was hilarious.”

Bird scored 14 points in almost 28 minutes — the crowd shouted again when she hit a left-side 3-pointer in the first minute — and Stewart led the Storm with 19, but Connecticut pulled away late to beat the Storm 82-71.

“I think it’s special because it’s her last season,” said Durham, from Stonington. “I thought it would be pretty cool to see her in her last season.”

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