July 22, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) Sue Bird is back for another WNBA All-Star Game, and Plenette Pierson is joining her for the first time.

Bird was announced by the league as a Western Conference reserve on Tuesday, sending her to Connecticut for the WNBA's 13th All-Star Game on Saturday. The Seattle Storm guard will be making her ninth appearance, tied for second most all-time behind Tamika Catchings' 10.

''It's always an honor to be selected to All-Star team,'' Bird said. ''In this case, the fact the coaches voted is a pretty cool thing.''

Bird has been voted in as a starter seven times. She also was picked as a replacement by the league's president once.

''Either way you're on the All-Star team,'' she said. ''When fans vote you in it has a special meaning. Coaches vote you in, it's more of a basketball meaning.''

While Bird is a frequent participant, Pierson will be playing in the contest for the first time. The 13-year veteran is one of seven players competing in their first All-Star Game. DeWanna Bonner of Phoenix, Alex Bentley and Kelsey Bone of Connecticut, Marissa Coleman of Indiana and Stefanie Dolson and Emma Meesseman of Washington also will be making their debuts.

Pierson was thrilled when she got the call the other day.

''I was just in awe,'' she said. ''My mom was in the room, I was in San Antonio, and I got the call and came running back in the room and said I made All-Star. We both started jumping around the room.''

The 33-year-old Pierson usually has taken the All-Star break as a chance to rest. But she is happy she will have something else to do this weekend.

''As much as I'd love to have had a couple days off since I'm almost 34, it's so great to be part of All-Star and to be voted in by the coaches,'' the Tulsa Shock forward said.

Other reserves include Chicago's Cappie Pondexter, Los Angeles' Nneka Ogwumike, San Antonio's Danielle Robinson and Minnesota's Lindsay Whalen.

Pondexter made the All-Star squad for the seventh time and joined Tina Thompson as the only players in league history to represent three different teams in the All-Star Game.

''Not too often that you can say you've done that,'' said Pondexter, who has played for Phoenix, New York and now Chicago. ''To be in the company of Tina Thompson, who is someone who has been a mentor to me, is amazing. I've always looked up to her and the hard work she put into the game.''

Whalen will need to be replaced on the roster after she suffered an eye injury in her last game. She won't play Wednesday against Connecticut, ending a streak of 106 straight starts, including the playoffs, for the Lynx.

WNBA President Laurel J. Richie already has to replace Skylar Diggins and Seimone Augustus, who are injured. Western Conference coach Sandy Brondello will decide who will fill their place in the starting lineup.

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This story has been corrected to change the Western Conference coach to Sandy Brondello.

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