Megan Rapinoe won Olympic gold and a World Cup, but she didn’t quite know how to act the first time she met Sue Bird.
The setting: The November 2015 NBC and U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee media summit in West Hollywood, Calif. More than 100 hopefuls for the Rio Games gathered over a series of days for interviews and promotional photo and video shoots.
Rapinoe and Bird happened to be scheduled on the same day. They happened to cross paths between stages.
Rapinoe, uncharacteristically nervous, searched for something to say. Bird was in a basketball uniform.
“Hey, ready for your game?” Rapinoe threw out as a joke.
She was immediately overcome with the dorkiness of the line.
“I walked away, just like, why would you ever say that?” Rapinoe said.
The feeling was mutual.
“I walked away like, I thought you were supposed to be cool,” Bird said.
Though Bird and Rapinoe each played for club teams in Seattle, their next meeting came nearly nine months later at the Rio Olympics.
Rapinoe, whose team was upset in the quarterfinals, attended some of Bird’s games. When Bird injured her knee mid-tournament, Rapinoe texted to ask if she was OK. Bird came back and guided the U.S. to a fourth straight gold. She and Rapinoe hung out and even went to a party together.
Upon returning to Seattle, they began communicating regularly. In July 2017, Bird publicly came out and said she started dating Rapinoe in fall 2016.
“We are pretty boring and like to sit on the couch and do what most people do, but we do understand that, culturally, it’s a thing,” Rapinoe said.
Bird will likely play in her fifth and final Olympics in Tokyo. At 40 years old, she would become the oldest U.S. Olympic basketball player in history by three years. It could also be the last Olympics for Rapinoe, who turns 36 next July.
OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!Follow @nbcolympictalk