Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird are considered two of the greatest women’s basketball players of all time. These two all-time greats have helped lead the women’s United States Olympic team to capture five gold medals: 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, and the postponed 2020 Olympics which took place this summer. Taurasi and Bird are the only two basketball players of any gender to have captured five Olympic gold medals.
Bird and Taurasi were backcourt mates during their standout college careers playing for the powerhouse University of Connecticut Huskies program coached by the legendary Geno Auriemma. In 2001-02, which was Bird’s senior year of college and Taurasi’s sophomore year of college, the tandem led the Huskies to the NCAA championship. Bird had previously helped lead the Huskies to an NCAA championship in her sophomore year, 1999-00, while Taurasi was still a senior in high school, and Taurasi helped lead the Huskies to another two titles in 2002-03 and 2003-04, after Bird graduated and was in the early years of her WNBA career. Coach Auriemma guided the 2012 and 2016 United States Olympic gold-medal-winning teams, two of the five that Taurasi and Bird helped lead.
Bird, a phenomenal floor leader, has become the WNBA’s all-time assist leader. Bird, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 WNBA Draft, has played her entire WNBA career with the Seattle Storm, and has helped lead the franchise to four championships: 2004, 2010, 2018, and 2020. Bird is tied with Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus of the Minnesota Lynx and Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes, and Tina Thompson of the Houston Comets for having won the most WNBA championships as a player.
Bird won the first two of her four WNBA titles playing alongside Lauren Jackson, forging one of the all-time great one-two punches in league history. Bird has forged another dynamic duo with Breanna Stewart in the process of claiming her third and fourth WNBA championships. By winning the 2020 WNBA championship, Bird became the third player in both WNBA history and NBA history to have won titles in three different decades. Bird has appeared in 12 WNBA All-Star games and has earned selection to the All-WNBA First Team five times.
Taurasi, who has captured a record-total five WNBA scoring titles, has become the league’s all-time scoring leader. Taurasi, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 WNBA Draft, has played her entire WNBA career with the Phoenix Mercury, and has helped lead the franchise to three championships: 2007, 2009, and 2014. Two of those three times, 2009 and 2014, Taurasi claimed the WNBA Finals MVP. In her legendary 2009 season, Taurasi was named the MVP of the WNBA. Cappie Pondexter was a notable teammate of Taurasi on the 2007 and 2009 Mercury championship teams, and Penny Taylor, whom Taurasi is now married to, was a notable teammate of her’s on all three of the Mercury championship teams. Taurasi has appeared in 10 WNBA All-Star games and has earned selection to the All-WNBA First Team 10 times.
The last five summer Olympics have presented the world with the opportunity to witness these two former UConn championship teammates, and two WNBA luminaries, represent the United States and repeatedly help lead the women’s team to win the gold medal. It has been quite a thrill, spanning over these past 17 years, to watch what has become the WNBA’s all-time assist leader and the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer, capture these five Olympic gold medals together.