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Bird warns Ionescu: WNBA vets will be 'coming for you'

Joshua Huston / National Basketball Association / Getty

Sue Bird, the WNBA's oldest and longest-tenured player, offered some advice for likely first overall pick Sabrina Ionescu: Don't expect the veterans to cut you any slack.

"Well, for the No. 1 pick - as we all know, it's rumored to be Sabrina - I would just be like, 'They're coming for you,'" the Seattle Storm legend said with a grin to ESPN's Ryan Ruocco on Thursday. "It doesn't matter if it's the strongest draft of all time or the weakest draft of all time. When you're the No. 1 pick, that's it; the target's on your back the whole season.

"Everybody comes for you. It's just the way it is."

The New York Liberty have the top pick in this year's draft. Barring a dramatic subversion of expectations, pundits unanimously believe the team will select the Oregon standout during the virtual draft on April 17.

Bird has been in Ionescu's position. After starring at Connecticut for four years, the scrappy, playmaking point guard was selected first overall by Seattle in the 2002 draft.

In addition to her slightly ominous warning, Bird had some other thoughts on transitioning from the collegiate ranks to the pros.

"For like a general advice thing, I would just say: You're in a new city, you're with new teammates - keep an open mind," Bird said. "Whatever you kind of had in college - there's a comfort there, so I think it's natural to be like 'Well in college, we did this,' or 'on my last team, we did that' - I think you've got to shed that immediately and just kind of buy into what's happening."

If there were ever worries about Bird buying in to her new WNBA surroundings, they were quickly assuaged: On her way to becoming the league's all-time leader in games, minutes, and assists, Bird has won three titles and been selected as an All-Star 11 times - and counting.

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