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Sue Bird hired by Denver Nuggets

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As Sue Bird works toward a potential fifth Olympics in 2020, she’ll have a new job: Denver Nuggets basketball operations associate.

The Nuggets announced the front-office hiring Friday, adding one of the most accomplished players in history. Bird had been tied to the team since mid-October, when she reportedly attended a practice.

“The best way to describe it is kind of like an apprenticeship,” Bird said on the R2C2 is Interrupted podcast published Wednesday. “They reached out. I had some mutual friends with the president there, Tim Connelly. He just kind of likes to keep athletes in the mix and likes to give them exposure and allow them to learn, give them that opportunity while they’re still playing. Music to my ears.”

Bird, who will be 40 in 2020 and three years older than any previous U.S. Olympic basketball player, is coming off her 16th WNBA season with the Seattle Storm, winning her third title. She also started all five of her games at the world championship in September, earning an eighth career Olympic or world gold medal.

Going into Rio, Bird said it would likely be her last Olympics. But in 2017, she said that she would continue playing for Team USA as long as USA Basketball asks. No younger point guard has unseated her on the national team.

“I’m on a timeline of my health, so as long as that’s still going, I’m going to still go,” Bird said on the podcast, adding that she will want to keep it a secret when she knows she’s playing her last season. “If I could squeeze out a couple more years, that would be great.”

The NBA has recently opened up roles for women. Most notably, Russian Olympian Becky Hammon became the first full-time female assistant coach in the U.S.’ four major team sports leagues with the San Antonio Spurs and later was head coach of their summer league team.

Nancy Lieberman, a 1976 U.S. Olympic silver medalist, and Kristi Toliver, who plays internationally for Slovakia, have worked as assistants with the Sacramento Kings and Washington Wizards, respectively.

The WNBA season typically starts in mid-May, when the NBA playoffs are happening.

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Steve Kerr among U.S. men’s basketball assistant coaches for Tokyo 2020

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Steve KerrNate McMillan and Jay Wright will be Gregg Popovich‘s assistant coaches with the U.S. men’s basketball team for its Tokyo 2020 Olympic run.

Kerr, who coached the Golden State Warriors to three of the last four NBA titles, was cut from 1988 Olympic consideration when the tryout pool was cut to 21 players, the last team before the NBA began participating in the Olympics. Kerr had just finished his career at the University of Arizona and was about to start a 15-season NBA career that would include five titles (the last two playing for Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs).

He was also on the 1986 World Championship-winning team in Madrid, the last American men’s senior team composed strictly of amateur players to capture a gold medal.

McMillan, the Indiana Pacers head coach, was an assistant on Mike Krzyzewski‘s staff at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

Wright, who coached Villanova to two of the last three NCAA titles, coached Team USA at the 2005 World University Games and 2007 Pan American Games.

The U.S. men’s basketball team, which has won 25 straight Olympic games and the last three gold medals. Its first opportunity to qualify for Tokyo 2020 at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, though it still must qualify for that world tournament.

The 2016 Olympic assistants for Krzyzewski were Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Tom Thibodeau and former New Orleans Pelicans head coach Monty Williams.

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Steve Nash puts Olympics atop his basketball career after tearful experience

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Steve Nash won two NBA MVPs, played with Dirk Nowitzki, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant and delivered an 18-year pro career that earned a place in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Which made what Nash said 14 minutes into his 21-minute induction speech so special.

“The greatest experience of my career was playing the Olympic Games for Canada,” Nash said on Friday night.

It’s no surprise given a memorable story from Nash’s one Olympics, Sydney 2000, the only time Canada has qualified for the Games in the Dream Team era.

Nash had practiced with the national team since age 16, played in the 1994 World Championship at age 19 and was MVP of the 1999 Tournament of the Americas, leading Canada to a silver medal to join the U.S. in the Olympic field.

In Sydney, Nash led a Canadian team that topped its group, upsetting Yugoslavia, then lost in the quarterfinals to eventual silver medalist France by five points. Had it beaten France, Canada would have earned a medal with a win in either of its last two games.

“I feel like I let everyone down,” Nash reportedly said that day. “We could have been in the championship game. We were good enough.”

From the National Post in Canada in 2015:

After the game the fans filtered out to the strains of a haunting, plaintive song by Moby called Porcelain, which had been the soundtrack every post-game of the tournament. I packed and made my way downstairs to the mixed zone – the area where athletes and press are allowed to converge. I reached it just in time to see Nash coming down the tunnel with each of his arms around the shoulders of a teammate.

The teammates – I think it was Rowan Barrett and Sherman Hamilton, but here time has, as I mentioned, faded the details – were literally dragging Nash off the floor. They were because Nash was sobbing so heavily — his chest heaving, the tears streaming, his voice choking – he was unable to walk.

Nash never made it back to the Olympics as a player, but he was an integral part of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games as one of four Canadian athletes chosen to light the indoor cauldron at the Opening Ceremony.

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