Breanna Stewart pens thank you letter to Seattle with special note to Sue Bird

Breanna Stewart ended her six-year career in Seattle on Wednesday when she announced her decision to join the New York Liberty, but she didn’t leave without saying “thank you.”

Drafted with the Storm’s No. 1 overall pick in 2016, Stewart went on to become a four-time All-Star, 2018 MVP and helped the team win two league titles.

In a letter shared to social media on Thursday, Stewart addressed the Storm franchise, fans and penned special notes to two of her former teammates. Her message to recently retired Sue Bird came first.

“Sue, I really should have wrote this after your retirement but I’ll just put it here now. It’s hard for me to imagine anything Seattle related without you,” Stewart wrote. “You’ve helped me literally since Day 1 and I know that’s not going to stop any time soon.”

It’s clear now Stewart remaining in Seattle for Bird’s final season was a top priority, as she signed a one-year supermax deal in 2022 for her Bird’s retirement tour and has now moved on.

Stewart’s move to the Liberty has been widely regarded as one of the most impactful in WNBA history. She used the platform her free agency provided to advocate for reformed travel in the league, something she wrote that Bird paved the way for.

“My idol, my teammate, my PG, my leader, my friend. Thank you for not only setting the bar but continuing to raise it every moment you can. I will continue to uplift this league as you have!” she wrote.

Bird has been vocal about the changes she hopes to see for the league, something that's continued in her retirement. “We want to be invested in and not viewed as a charity,” she recently said while speaking with retired Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Part of what likely made Stewart and Bird’s connection so strong is their shared background at UConn. Both developed in college under coach Geno Auriemma, who spoke about Stewart's latest move in a postgame news conference.

"I talked to Stewie two days ago. She feels it's a chapter of a life that's closed, it's over," Auriemma said. "She's starting a new one. I'm excited for her. I get to see her more often, so that's a plus."

As she bids farewell to her past, an excited New York fan base counts down the moments until she suits up for the Liberty. Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant is one of them, as he was public about his hopes to see Stewart on the Liberty.

With Stewart, Sabrina Ionescu, Jonquel Jones and Thursday signee Courtney Vandersloot, the Liberty have the potential to be dominant when the start of WNBA season rolls around in May. The Storm, on the other hand, are left with some holes to fill.

Stewart addressed four-time All-Star Jewell Loyd in her farewell letter, who is currently Seattle’s longest-tenured player.

“We went from being roommates to throwing unlimited lobs in games (sorry Sue) to an unstoppable tandem that helped bring this franchise 2 more titles! I’m so grateful to have you in my corner always,” she wrote.

The two were a dominant pair together, something Stewart spoke to after a close loss to the Las Vegas Aces last season.

"We are a duo that's hard to stop. We are both still early in our careers and know how scary we can be on court. You saw that last night," she said.

The loss led reporters to ask Loyd about the future of the team.

"You find players you want to play with," Loyd said. "People have seen my game, how Stewie and I play and I hope they want to be here. There will be some calls and chats to recruit, but I'm not a recruiter, so you hope it happens organically.”

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 21: Breanna Stewart #30 of the Seattle Storm exits the court after beating Washington Mystics in Round 1 Game 2 of the WNBA playoffs at Climate Pledge Arena on August 21, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)