By DOUG FEINBERG The Associated Press
Sue Bird isn't gearing up for the start of the WNBA season for the first time in her 11-year career.
The Seattle Storm star point guard is recovering from recent left knee surgery, which will sideline her for the entire summer season that began this weekend and runs through August.
Bird had surgery on a cyst in her knee on May 9. She's optimistic her knee will heal in time for her to play in Russia this fall and return to the Storm next spring.
"I'm doing well," said Bird in a recent phone interview from her sister's home in Connecticut. "I'm about almost two weeks post-op and had my follow-up appointment, everything's good. It's a waiting game now."
The WNBA All-Star and former UConn player is no stranger to surgeries -- it's her fourth in six years. The 32-year-old Bird had her left knee scoped in 2007, right hip labrum repaired in 2011 and the left one done in October. That doesn't even include the surgeries she's had for three broken noses since 2004.
Still none of those put her out for the year. She's only missed 22 games in her pro career, a total that will double this season. But she'll still follow the game and provide commentary for ESPN during it WNBA telecasts.
Joining her on the injured list is former MVP Lauren Jackson, who also will miss the entire season because of hamstring surgery. She played just nine games for the Storm last summer because of Olympic commitments with the Australian team.
Bird averaged 12.2 points and 5.3 assists for Seattle last season. Bird and Jackson combined to average 32 points for the Storm in 2010, when they both played full seasons.
This month, Bird had surgery to fill the cyst and not remove it, which is normally the case. The surgeon used bone from her hip to "fill the area up."
"People think you take it out," she said. "A cyst can be a lot of different things, inside my bone, inside my knee. They didn't go in my joint, structurally my knee doesn't change."
Bird believes her knee will be back to full strength after rehabilitation.
"Right now I feel good, but I've still got to go through the process," she said. "There's a little bit of atrophy and I have to get my muscle back. I'm just doing baby exercises, range of motion. I couldn't be happier how things turned out."
Having some free time also means Bird can spend time with her young niece Zoe, who was born in February.
"This has been a bright side," Bird said. "She's 3 1/2-four months. We hang around. Can't do much with her. Basically we both just sit on the couch. It's neat to be around her and watch her grow. She's going to be a guard."
Bird is looking forward to her television work with ESPN.
"It will be fun," Bird said. "I'm lucky that I can talk about something I know and don't have to study too much. That's half the battle right there. I'm getting older, so maybe this will give me something.
"I don't know what I want to do (when done playing). Thankfully, I have the opportunity to do that and see if it's a fit."
Bird plans to return to Seattle next month if all goes according to plan.
"I talked to the owners via email. I'm going to come back once I don't have to rely on anybody," she said. "Crutching around is a task, just doing day-to-day stuff."
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