Sue Bird Said Playing in Russia Helped Make Her a Millionaire

  • The WNBA legend Sue Bird used 10 seasons actively playing in Russia to supplement her profits.
  • Bird explained to “60 Minutes” that she designed 10 instances her 1st WNBA income, which was underneath $60,000 a yr.
  • Chicken also reported it was a wild time that incorporated her team’s operator remaining murdered.

As WNBA superstar Brittney Griner remains jailed in Russia on a drug-smuggling demand, fellow star Sue Bird discussed why she put in 11 a long time participating in skillfully in Russia for an owner who was when convicted of being a KGB spy.

Chook instructed “60 Minutes” that in spite of getting the first decide in the 2002 WNBA Draft, she produced a lot less than $60,000 per year early in her career. Whilst she only plays stateside now, as she enters her 21st season, she put in a huge aspect of her profession participating in abroad to nutritional supplement her cash flow, like many WNBA gamers. 

Chicken stated that immediately after participating in in Europe for two seasons, the Russian billionaire Shabtai Kalmanovich recruited her to Spartak Moscow of the EuroLeague.

She advised CBS about the recruitment: “He was like, ‘You know, I have a ton of revenue. And, you know, some people like to gamble. Some individuals like to invest in automobiles. I like women’s basketball. That is exactly where I want to shell out my money.'”

CBS noted that Kalmanovich paid Chicken 10 periods what she produced in the WNBA. When requested if the dollars was life-changing, Chicken explained it was.

“Completely,” she stated. “Like, I am a millionaire because of it.”

Russian billionaire Shabtai Kalmanovich with some of his players on Spartak Moscow, including Sue Bird (far right).

The Russian billionaire Shabtai Kalmanovich with some of his gamers on Spartak Moscow, together with Sue Chook (far ideal).

Joe Klamar/AFP via Getty Illustrations or photos


A 2019 episode of ESPN’s “30 for 30” described how Kalmanovich spoiled his gamers, and the perks went over and above salaries.

“Anything basically was very first class,” Chicken explained to ESPN. “We’re being at the finest lodges. We go to Paris. We are in, like, the bomb lodge in Paris.”

Diana Taurasi, her teammate, said they were also provided a “mini-mansion” with a pool and a spa. Kalmanovich even gave the American players his credit history card to go on buying sprees, they mentioned, telling the women to “get what ever you want.”

“So you know immediately, like, ‘OK, can we invest $500? Can we spend a thousand?'” Taurasi explained to ESPN. “And, you know, you get nervous, you have this adrenaline, where you happen to be like, ‘Should I get this Louis Vuitton bag that’s $3,000, which I would hardly ever obtain? Indeed, I will, and I am going to get two of them — just one for me and one for Jessika Taurasi,” she said, referring to her sister.

Taurasi continued, “We get in the auto, and I signify we have what, like, 25, 30 bags. I truly feel like we robbed a bank.”

CBS described Kalmanovich as “a previous KGB spy and businessman with a record of operating outdoors the regulation.” He was also assassinated although Chook performed for the crew. 

A BBC report said Kalmanovich invested 5 decades in prison in Israel, convicted of being a KGB spy. Right after becoming unveiled, he created his fortune in the African diamond trade.