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Bird will end her career as one of the WNBA's all-time greats as a five-time Olympic gold medalist who helped bring four championships to the Seattle Storm. She's also a 2022 WNBA All-Star and will compete in Sunday's game in Chicago. And though Sunday will be her last All-Star Game as a player, Bird is celebrating a major first — her first NBA 2K cover for the iconic video game.
"NBA 2K has been amazing," says Bird. Standing next to her on the video game cover is Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi, who Bird calls "one of her best friends."
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"It's not every day you get to say you're on the cover of NBA 2K with one of your favorite teammates of all time," Bird says of her relationship with Taurasi.
The WNBA stars' cover is the second of 2K's editions to feature a WNBA player. Chicago Sky star Candace Parker was featured on the 2K22 cover last year.
Bird tells PEOPLE there are "so many reasons" she's excited about the cover, but most of all she's passionate about the positive impact it'll have on the next generation of athletes.
"I think it's really special in lot of ways," she says. "It's special for all the people who are playing in these games to see women on the cover, special for little girls to see us on the cover, but also special for little boys to see us on the cover too."
For Bird, the number of female athletes she could look up to as a kid were few and far between, so having women on the cover of NBA 2K is something she says she "definitely doesn't take for granted."
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Vice President of Global Marketing Strategy for NBA 2K, Alfie Brody said in a release, "The response to NBA 2K's first WNBA Edition last year was overwhelmingly positive and a testament to the W's growing audience and prominence. Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi have achieved greatness both individually and together, cementing their status as two of the best players in the WNBA's history."
Additionally, NBA 2K has announced they'll be celebrating Bird and Taurasi's cover by partnering with the WNBA to donate $100,000 to Every Kid Sports, which Bird calls "a really special opportunity" for young girls. Every Kid Sports works to provide young girls the opportunity to join youth basketball programs across the country.
"It's about keeping kids, especially young girls, involved in sports. But more than anything, making sure there's the opportunity to play," says Bird.