Long Island’s Sue Bird will be going to her fourth Olympics this summer in Rio as a member of the U.S. women’s basketball team.
Bird was one of 12 players selected for the national team, which was announced on Wednesday morning during NBC’s “Today” show. Bird, 35, won gold medals with the U.S. at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
The point guard for the WNBA’s Seattle Storm told the Associated Press that her selection for this summer’s team may mean more to her than the previous three.
“Mainly I think it’s because that when you are young the tendency is to take things for granted, and you just think these things are going to happen year after year or every four years,” she said. “But now that I am older, I see that I am really lucky.”
Diana Taurasi of the Phoenix Mercury and Tamika Catchings of the Indiana Fever join Bird as four-time Olympians.
Tina Charles of the Liberty also was selected to the team, making her the first active member of the Liberty going to the Olympics.
“For me it’s a blessing to be one of the 12,” Charles said in a statement released by the Liberty. “I don’t take anything for granted. I respect all of the finalists who were in the pool. There’s a lot of great talent, and it could’ve gone either way. I’m so blessed and super happy, and I appreciate the fact that I’m a member of this team. I’m still scrambling for words. Even though I’ve already earned a gold medal and I’ve had that experience, anything can happen. Looking at the amount of talent that comes into this league that USA Basketball knows of, anything could’ve happened, so I’m blessed. It’s awesome.”
Olympic veterans Seimone Augustus, Sylvia Fowles, Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen of the Minnesota Lynx, and Angel McCoughtry of the Atlanta Dream also were selected.
The U.S. national team also features three newcomers. Reigning WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne, Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercuty and Breanna Stewart, who just finished her collegiate career at Connecticut with four national titles. Stewart was selected No. 1 overall in the draft by the Seattle Storm earlier this month.
“When you look at the team there’s a little bit of everything. A little bit of youth, a little bit of the middle and then there’s the veterans,” U.S. head coach Geno Auriemma told The Associated Press. “There’s some size and there’s lot of flexibility to handle things a lot of different ways. Everyone that’s on the team is on the team for a purpose. They feel like they can do something that’s unique for the team. “The ones that won gold medals in the world championship and the Olympics, they are invaluable and yet everyone’s role changes every year. Whatever role you played in 2012 didn’t necessarily mean you will play that role now.”
The U.S. has won 41 consecutive Olympic game and will be going for its sixth consecutive gold medal in Rio.