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What WNBA star Sue Bird learned during the pandemic

October 12, 2021 00:00 AM UTC
- Updated October 12, 2021 22:43 PM UTC

In what she describes as the "wubble".

So do I hear even you are working out at home early in the pandemic? Yeah we um at some point the W. N. B. A. Decided to do what we affectionately called the wobble season and that's when it started to get serious and I was like well how am I going to get ready for this? And I think what I learned in that pandemic as it pertains to working out was um There's always these small gains to be had. So even you know Heidi mentioned like a 10 minute intense workout, 10 minutes sometimes if that's all you can get in it's enough it's enough to to kind of get you set off in the right direction. And so I just in that moment decided like I can't be too hard on myself. Yes I'm trying to train for a season but nothing is as it was of course. So if I couldn't get on a basketball court I was like all right I'm just gonna go to try to go find a playground. A lot of the nets were tied up. Some of the rims were taken down and I literally would shoot into the air like just pretending you gotta do what you gotta do sometimes. Um But I think we all learned in that moment like how resilient we can be how you have to adapt and adjust and just because you know and I'll speak from a basketball perspective just because my training wasn't gonna look exactly the same. I didn't mean I couldn't get the results I needed just because it wasn't gonna be that same route that made me feel comfortable doesn't mean I can't get there in a different way and still have, like I said those results, so that's 100% what I learned. And then, you know, we lived in a wobble and that was bizarre. Tell us about it. What was the experience of being in the wobble? Like I mean this is the bubble WNBA's you following it? So yeah, so what was, what was it like um you know, it was, it was um you kind of got sick of seeing people uh particularly like, you know, other teams, other coaches, maybe you're playing them that night and you're in the elevator like, hey, how's it going? I actually don't care, but I'll ask anyway, the hardest part was actually seeing the referee's, Oh yeah, that was not an amazing because, you know, our relationship kind of strained as it is. Um So it was kind of interesting, but we learned a lot about ourselves I think as a league we learned um yeah, we were there to play basketball. It was amazing because it was the pandemic. The one good thing that came from it was we got way more tv coverage and now we're able to kind of ride that wave a little bit, The ratings have been way up, way up, way up. I mean, what do you know, you put it on tv everything a shocker. A shocker. Um but the other thing we learned was that when we, in terms of the social justice, when we, when we unify our voice, when we're one voice, that's where our power was. We don't necessarily have, You know, the individual platform to kind of make a message as big as we wanted to, but Wow 144 of us when we came together, I mean, some might say we helped flip the senate seat and and there's something really powerful in that and I think women, we collaborate in that way and and we, we already knew that about our our league, but it just, it just hammered it home and now we'll never do anything if we're not in lockstep. It was really, really incredible to watch. Um and you know, I was thinking about that and your relationship with Nike and the fact that, you know, Nike is also a company that has a history of engaging on social justice. Um you know, I think probably the most memorable for a lot of people recently would be the Colin Kaepernick ad. Um and you know, when you do that, you have a bunch of consumers, lots of different people buy shoes. Um you're gonna alienate some of your shoppers. So talk us through like what, what part of Nike's DNA allows you to take those stands and I know a lot of people are having these issues with their own companies. So if you have any advice please share that as well. Sure. Well this is probably worth a session zone we can talk about. But you know, I'd start with, you know, just the fact that it's uh easier to take a stand uh if you know who you are and what you believe. And like that's the advice right there, you know, as a person, as a company and you know, what drew me to Nike is that we've always known who we are, what we believe. And you know, I actually get up in the morning and think that, you know, we might be able to move the world like we move the world physically, but I actually think we can move the world and and you know, I I uh and we're and you know, Phil Knight always reminds us, you know, always reminds us that it's our job to listen to the voice of the athlete and you know, where we know we're better if we know what we believe and um if we listen to Sue, like literally listening to do and you know, so and I would just say especially uh you know, you talk Kaepernick, but especially as it relates to level playing field and uh and you know, so I think, you know, we'll talk about players because that's really important, but one thing I'm really proud of is Just um living our values with our employees and level playing field. And uh we have just announced over the last six months in our impact report that we're going to um we have targets of representation um through to 2025 um listed and named in our impact report and executive comp is tied to that. My comp is tied to those targets and I'm telling you that I'm proud of that. I'm proud that I look at my stats and my numbers every day. Um I'm proud that I can tell you that we're making progress and I can see it in the numbers already, just months out of the impact report and and and you know, really impressive, you know, progress there. I think we're making a ways to go and then okay, now I'm just gonna then talk about, you know, athletes because you know, probably the most visible way you see us taking stands is through voice of athlete and you know, um and we love the level playing field conversation Kaepernick, you know, with his dream crazy and dream Crazier was something we're really proud of and again, lines back to our values, but what I love about that, it wasn't just Kaepernick, it was then Serena and it was Lebron. And uh and I think Lebron's message was uh basketball players don't change the world until they do