After the US women's hoops squad claimed golden astatine the Tokyo Olympics, determination was a heartwarming backstage infinitesimal shared betwixt Sue Bird and shot prima Megan Rapinoe.
The wide nationalist and household members couldn't be Olympics hoops games due to the fact that of the coronavirus pandemic, but astatine Saitama Super Arena, Rapinoe - who had earlier won bronze with the US women's shot squad aft defeating the Matildas 4-3 successful a thrilling contest - was successful the stands to cheer connected her fiancée.
When Bird celebrated triumph implicit Japan successful the last of the women's hoops successful Tokyo, she went implicit to Rapinoe and the brace embraced and kissed, with the infinitesimal captured by Getty photographers.
Rapinoe shared the photograph of her congratulating Bird connected her ain societal media account.
"I americium truthful arrogant of you," Rapinoe said connected Instagram.
"As if I could emotion you immoderate more."
In erstwhile interviews Bird had credited Rapinoe for encouraging her to publically travel retired arsenic cheery aft they began dating having met astatine the Rio Olympics. They got engaged successful 2020.
Rapinoe gushed connected the US's Olympics broadcast astir their narration successful rare, nationalist designation of LGBTQI athletes astatine the Games.
"[I'm] honestly inspired," Rapinoe told NBC earlier getting emotional.
"I told her the different day, it feels similar corny to say, but it's similar everything you would privation successful idiosyncratic that you would look up to. Obviously, I get to beryllium with her and I emotion her, that's the astir peculiar part.
"She conscionable does things the close way. She plays with a consciousness of joy, she makes everyone other astir her amended connected and disconnected the court. She's conscionable an astonishing person. I'm gonna commencement tearing up. You're gonna marque maine outcry connected nationalist TV."
The golden medal triumph successful Tokyo was a milestone accomplishment for WNBA prima Bird. She and Diana Taurasi walked disconnected the hoops tribunal together, arm-in-arm, 1 past clip astatine the Tokyo Games.
They started their travel unneurotic 5 Olympics agone and ended it successful the aforesaid manner arsenic ever — with golden medals hanging astir their necks.
"All of what we've done for USA Basketball, we've done together. It's fitting," Bird said aft the 90-75 triumph implicit Japan.
And present it's implicit — astatine slightest for the 40-year-old Bird.
"The champion examination is assemblage since you cognize it's the end," Bird said. "Now I ever person a fantastic feeling and a large sensation successful my rima my elder year. That's however it is with USA Basketball."
All she and Taurasi person done connected the planetary signifier is triumph and present the brace stands unsocial with 5 golden medals — the archetypal hoops players ever to execute that feat.
"It's 20 years and radical lone get to spot these moments," Taurasi said. "We're connected these trips each time together. each conversation. this means a batch to us."
While Bird is retiring from planetary basketball, Taurasi near the doorway unfastened aft the crippled successful her on-court interrogation that she'll play successful Paris successful 2024.
She isn't really definite she'll play, saying: "We'll see."
But, Bird threw a speedy jab astatine her 39-year-old person for adjacent considering it.
"Hahaha, idiot," Bird said laughing portion lasting adjacent to Taurasi and talking with The Associated Press.
The US has present won the past 7 Olympic golden medals matching the country's men's programme for the astir ever successful a row. The men did it from 1936-68.
With Bird orchestrating the travel of games and Taurasi's scoring, they person been a changeless unit for the US, providing stableness for the women's programme since the 2004 Athens Games. They person won each 38 of the games astatine the Olympics they've competed in.
The names person changed astir the pair, including greats Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes, Tina Thompson, Tamika Catchings and Sylvia Fowles, but the results haven't.
The Americans are connected a 55-game Olympic winning streak dating backmost to the bronze medal crippled of the 1992 Barcelona Games.
The US fto Japan cognize that wasn't going to alteration connected Sunday.
The Americans jumped retired to a 18-5 pb down a ascendant archetypal 4th by Brittney Griner. The squad pb 23-14 aft 1 arsenic Griner had 10 points, taking vantage of the undersized Japanese team. Japan was capable to get wrong six successful the 2nd 4th earlier the Americans went up 11 astatine the fractional and ne'er looked back.
As the last buzzer sounded, Bird and Taurasi embraced and past proceeded to hug each of their teammates and the coaching staff.
Griner finished with 30 points, making 14 of her 18 shots. It was the astir points ever by a US subordinate successful a golden medal game, surpassing the 29 by Leslie successful 1996.
While Bird has said she is moving on, the aboriginal is agleam for the US down Griner, Breanna Stewart and the six newcomers connected this year's team. That included A'ja Wilson, who volition beryllium counted connected to support the streak going 3 years from present astatine the 2024 Paris Games. Wilson, who celebrated her 25th day connected Sunday, made her beingness felt successful her Olympic debut, scoring 19 points successful the golden medal game.
But determination were different milestones of enactment Sunday too Bird's farewell.
The triumph besides made Dawn Staley, the archetypal Black women's hoops manager for the US, the 2nd pistillate to triumph a golden medal arsenic a player, adjunct and caput manager joining Anne Donovan. Staley said aft the crippled that she won't travel backmost to manager successful Paris.
Staley said being portion of six Olympics is capable for her, "I'm full."
The crippled besides marked the extremity of Carol Callan's tally arsenic the nationalist squad director. She started close earlier the Americans won the archetypal golden of this streak successful 1996 and has been the designer for this unprecedented run.
Japan, which was the lone 1 of the 11 different teams to ever person beaten the U.S. successful an Olympics, won a medal for the archetypal clip successful the country's history. The team's champion decorativeness earlier Sunday was fifth.
The big federation has been connected the emergence since it hired manager Tom Hovasse. He said erstwhile helium got the occupation 4 and a fractional years agone that his squad would beryllium playing against the U.S. for the golden astatine the Tokyo Games — and would bushed them.
He was fractional right.
The teams met successful preliminary excavation play and the US won by 17 points aft trailing by 2 aft the archetypal quarter. Just similar that game, the Americans utilized their ascendant station vantage to power the rubric game. Japan's biggest subordinate was 6-foot-1 — nary lucifer for the imposing beforehand enactment led by Griner, who is 6-9.
A ample contingent of Japanese volunteers, who had been successful the Saitama Super Arena for the full tourney sat and applauded their team. No existent cheering was allowed due to the fact that of the coronavirus pandemic.
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