On March 2nd, during halftime in the UConn women’s basketball game against Houston, Rebecca Lobo’s jersey number was permanently raised to the rafters in Gampel Pavilion. Lobo became the first former player to receive the honor after being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017.
Moving forward, Lobo and UConn head coach Geno Auriemma both said that they expect that someday other former players will join No. 50 up in the rafters. But who will be first?
Of course there have been many great players to come through the program but one stands out above all others as the most probable future Hall-of-Famer.
At UConn, Bird made a name for herself as a smart and hardworking guard. She was likeable and led her teammates. She was the 2002 National Player of the Year and won the Nancy Lieberman Award for the nation’s top NCAA Division I point guard three times.
Bird was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 WNBA draft and was chosen by the Seattle Storm. She has played in Seattle her entire career and has brought the city three WNBA championships. At 38, Bird is the oldest player in the WNBA, but remains one of the most consistent. She is routinely considered the best point guard in the league and is the all-time leader in assists. This past season she led the Storm to their third championship and their first since 2010.
In addition, Bird has four Olympic gold medals and has played in every summer Olympics since she graduated college.
Bird’s resume on the court is stellar but her contributions to the women’s game off the court are also noteworthy. Bird is currently a Basketball Operations Associate for the Denver Nuggets and has been very vocal about including women in more high-profile positions in basketball such as coaching. In 2017, Bird came out publicly as lesbian and has been speaking openly and proudly about her identity since then. Her focus has always been for basketball to be more inclusive overall. She has moved the game forward through her skills, leadership and off the court persona.
To be inducted into the Hall of Fame, a player must be fully retired for at least four full seasons. Only after that time period can they become eligible.
While Bird has confirmed that she will be back in 2019 to play her 17th season in the league, the question of retirement has been on many people’s minds for some time now.
Once she does retire there is no one more deserving than her to have her number retired in the Huskies program. She elevated UConn women’s basketball, the WNBA and the women’s national team.
So, give it 10 years or so and Bird’s No. 10 will definitely be right there next to Lobo’s No. 50.
Mariana Dominguez is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.