Bird has knee sprain
RIO DE JANEIRO >> Sue Bird and the U.S. women's basketball team received some good news Wednesday when an MRI revealed that the team captain and point guard just had a knee capsule sprain.
Bird had initially feared the injury would be much worse.
"Obviously I felt a huge relief." Bird said in a statement provided by USA Basketball. "The hardest part is waiting and not knowing. So, to finally get the thumbs-up from the doc that everything was okay was incredibly relieving and exciting, and obviously I'm very happy."
Bird wasn't at practice on Wednesday and is listed as day-to-day. She has little time to recover before the U.S. faces France in the women's basketball semifinals on Thursday night. A win and the U.S. would play in the gold medal game on Saturday.
Bird has started every game for the U.S. in the past three Olympics and has 30 assists and just three turnovers in Rio. The Americans were preparing at practice as if she couldn't go against France.
"You don't replace Sue. We all know that," guard Diana Taurasi said . "Been on too many teams with her and I know how valuable she is to a team. Our success is because she's been the quarterback. She's the director of it all. To say we're not going to miss her ... would be silly.
"It's going to take a little bit of everyone to fill her shoes. I'll probably slide to the one a little bit more. Lindsay (Whalen) will play a little bit more. We have confidence in everyone on this team."
The 35-year-old Bird was hurt with 6:33 left in the second quarter of Tuesday night's 110-64 win over Japan in the quarterfinals. She sat out the second half of the game.
The four-time Olympian told The Associated Press in a postgame interview that she heard a "pop" in the knee. She has had issues with her left knee, but this is the first injury to her right knee.
"We have depth at certain positions, that's probably not one of them," U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said. "We're there with Lindsay and Dee. It's more than enough. But now we have to do a great job managing that and making sure, they have to be really smart."
With Bird on the bench, the U.S. started Seimone Augustus in the third quarter against Japan on Tuesday night. The Americans outscored Japan 54-18 in the second half without Bird.
France has also has had to deal point guard problems. Celine Dumerc, who guided France to the silver medal in the 2012 Olympics, injured her ankle right before the Rio Games.
"They've got their own issues at point guard spot with Celine being out, but managed pretty well," Auriemma said. "They run their stuff as well as anyone here. One of the better defensive teams in the world."
In Thursday's other semifinal matchup, Serbia plays Spain.
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