(AP) - Sue Bird is no stranger to surgeries. She'll have her fourth one in six years in early May to remove a cyst from her left knee.
It will sideline the perennial All-Star for six months and she'll miss the WNBA season.
"I was lucky in that I learned to take care of my body at an early age, but, unfortunately some things you have no control over," Bird wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Believe me when I say, I would much rather not be having these surgeries, but you have to play the hand you're dealt and if it means I can keep playing for the next four or five years so be it.
"It could be easy to let this kind of thing get you down, so I just try to approach it all with a positive attitude."
The 32-year-old Bird had her left knee scoped in 2007, right hip labrum repaired in 2011 and the left one done last October. That doesn't even mention the three nasal bone surgeries she's had since 2004.
The latest surgery will be performed by Dr. Michael Joyce on May 9. He also performed the other surgeries on her knees. Bird, who is from New York, plans to stay on the East Coast to rehab for the first month or two before heading to Seattle.
It's easy to understand why Bird is breaking down since she hasn't had much of a break over the past decade if you don't count the time she's missed for injury. She's gone from the Seattle Storm to the U.S. national team and then Russia to play for Ekaterinburg. Bird said she could probably count on a hand or two the amount of time off she's had over the past few years.
"This is just what comes with the territory as a women's professional basketball player these days," Bird said. "You go from season to season with some national team in between, and just try your best to be as healthy as possible at all times."
Bird is currently playing overseas in Russia and will finish off her season because she is not experiencing pain in the knee.
"My initial thoughts were that I wanted to honor my commitment to my team here in Ekaterinburg while going through the process of figuring things out," Bird said. "My doctor showed no concern when it came to playing in the short term, so it's not something I worried about, either."
While she makes more money to play overseas, Bird would never give up playing for the Storm.
"I play in the WNBA because it's the best competition in the world and because I love playing in front of our US fans," she said. "I also enjoy playing in Europe and don't ever really compare the two or make choices based on any comparison. My decision to have surgery at the end of this European season is simply a reflection of the time it took to weigh treatment options and my desire to give all that I can to each team I play for."
Seattle will already be without former MVP Lauren Jackson, who is choosing to remain in Australia while recovering from hamstring surgery.
"Once I knew surgery was the definite option, Lauren was one of the first people I told," Bird said.
Bird hopes to be back this fall if the U.S. women's basketball national team has a training camp.
"If USAB has training and I'm invited, I will participate in whatever capacity I'm able," she said.
Follow Doug on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)