Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, W.N.B.A. Stars, Keep Longtime Friendship

Except for All-Star games, they have never played side-by-side in the W.N.B.A., but they are almost certainly entering league history together this season.

Taurasi, 35, broke Tina Thompson’s W.N.B.A. career scoring record on Sunday by 6 points, reaching 7,494. At the same time, Bird is on pace to set the W.N.B.A. record for career assists — she is 119 behind Ticha Penicheiro’s mark of 2,599.

Their careers have been linked since 2000, when Taurasi enrolled at UConn during Bird’s junior year. Often, they are typecast — Taurasi as the brash Southern California girl with a knack for attracting controversy and Bird as the munificent point guard from Long Island with the girl next door vibe.

But Connecticut Coach Geno Auriemma was quick to dismiss the notion that his two former stars are all that different. “Sue’s kind of the same,” as the bold Taurasi, he said. “But she hides it better.”

During a recent three-way phone conversation, Bird and Taurasi spent much of the time unintentionally illuminating their similarities.

Both harbored soccer dreams before basketball (“Sue swears if she would have stayed, she would have…

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