Katie Lou Samuelson had a pretty good Wednesday night. Not only did the Chicago Sky select the former UConn women’s basketball star No. 4 overall in the WNBA Draft, Samuelson’s favorite player, Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird, surprised her with a congratulatory video.
Here’s a transcript of Bird’s message:
“Congratulations on your amazing high school and college careers, Katie Lou. Your talent and determination will be a great asset to the WNBA and I wish you continued success. Thank you for the honor of wearing No. 33. I can’t wait to see what you will accomplish at the next level.”
Samuelson’s reaction says it all:
Samuelson could barely muster a response after watching it.
“Wow, that’s amazing. That is amazing. I was not expecting—I—am speechless. He’s my favorite player ever, I wear the number—oh my goodness. Thank you guys so much, thanks Larry!”
So how did Samuelson, who grew up greater Los Angeles, become a fan of one of the players on the opposite side of the Celtics-Lakers rivalry? Since she is too young to have actually watched Bird play live, Samuelson discovered him thanks to a few television specials.
“When I was in fifth grade, I played for a team called ‘OC Rhythm’ and that’s where I first got the choice to choose my number and I picked 33 because my dad was trying to explain to me who Larry Bird was,” Samuelson explained back in October. “We actually watched the documentary on him and Magic [Johnson] and that whole rivalry. There’s some film my dad shows me but we still have Larry Bird’s 50 all-time greatest plays recorded, I’ll still watch that every time I go back home because it’s on our DVR.”
While watching those shows, Samuelson fell in love with Bird’s famous trash talk which he backed up with his flair for the dramatic — even though he didn’t look the part to do so.
“I’ve just loved watching (Bird),” she said. “The stuff he does is crazy, it’s fun to watch, it’s entertaining and I think what really got me was how he might not look like he’s going to go out there and kick your butt but he’s the first one to start things. He’s not going to back down from everything and he’s going to produce after what he says.”
Although Samuelson is ultimately Celtics fan, she does have a soft spot for Lakers legend Kobe Bryant after watching him live with her dad.
“I’m a Larry Bird fan and a big Celtics fans, but then I was always a big Kobe fan so I was kind of a Lakers fan because my dad and I would always go to Lakers games and try to guess how many points he would have that game but it’s always been Celtics.”
Luckily, nobody on the Sky’s current roster wears No. 33, so Samuelson can keep representing her favorite player at the pro level.