WNBA star Sue Bird, recuperating from knee surgery, joins ESPN as studio analyst

Seattle's Sue Bird (right), seen here next to Minnesota's Maya Moore,  joins ESPN as a WNBA analyst this season as she recuperates from an injury. (David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Seattle’s Sue Bird (right), seen here next to Minnesota’s Maya Moore, joins ESPN as a WNBA analyst this season as she recuperates from an injury. (David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Seven-time WNBA All-Star Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm will be part of ESPN2’s coverage of the 2013 WNBA season-opening Memorial Day doubleheader — featuring the top four teams from the 2013 WNBA Draft. The Washington Mystics meet the Tulsa Shock at 3 p.m. ET, followed by the Chicago Sky at the Phoenix Mercury at 5 p.m.

A two-time WNBA champion with the Storm, Bird will join ESPN anchor Max Bretos in-studio on Monday. She is currently sidelined for the 2013 season while recovering from left knee surgery.

“Anytime we can secure a WNBA champion and Olympic gold medalist to join our coverage, it is a huge coup,” said Mandy Cohen, ESPN WNBA producer. “Sue has a career that will go down as one of the top players in the game, and she will provide deep insight and give an inside perspective into today’s teams and players.”

Veteran play-by-play commentator Pam Ward returns with analyst Carolyn Peck and reporter LaChina Robinson to call the Mystics-Shock matchup, while Ryan Ruocco joins ESPN’s WNBA coverage as a play-by-play voice this season, and will be paired with analysts Rebecca Lobo and reporter Holly Rowe for the Sky-Mercury telecast.

In anticipation of her studio debut, Bird discusses the assignment with Front Row.

How did this opportunity come about?
I had knee surgery a few weeks ago and because of that will miss the WNBA season this year. That’s unfortunate, but a bright side is I have the time to take advantage of this opportunity.

How will you approach criticizing/analyzing current teammates?
I think I’ll just talk as if I’m with my friends or teammates, and say what I see. Generally, my own teammates are perfect so it should be an easy job!

What has ESPN meant for the WNBA?
ESPN has been huge in the growth of the WNBA. When a sport is put on their networks, there is an immediate notoriety and acceptance that comes with it and those are two things the WNBA has needed.

Would you call this prep for a post-WNBA career?
I guess you never know!

How is your rehab coming along?
Rehab has been smooth so far and the outlook is good. I just have to take it one day, week, month at a time until I’m back out there again.