In their first game as a starting backcourt, they combined for a pedestrian 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists in the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's 36-point victory over Villanova at Gampel Pavilion.
Who knew on Feb. 4, 2001, that Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi would go on to be the best their sport has seen? Their then-college coach and later their coach for seven years with the United States national team had an idea.
"I have always said from back in 2002 that they'd be the best backcourt in the history of women's basketball -- college basketball, pro basketball, any kind of basketball -- and I said time will prove that," Geno Auriemma said last month. "It certainly has. You'll never find something like that ever again. It's too improbable for it to happen again. Those two are pretty special. There's nothing to compare them to. There really isn't."
Bird and Taurasi started 51 of the next 55 games together for the Huskies before Bird graduated in 2002 and moved on to the WNBA's Seattle Storm as the No. 1 pick in the draft. Taurasi was the top pick in the 2004 draft by the Phoenix Mercury. Both won national championships in their final college game.
As Team USA members, they have started every game but one in the last three Olympics and last three FIBA world championships except one when Bird missed the 2016 Olympic semifinal with France due to a knee injury. They have won four Olympic gold medals together. No one has more.
The pair will get together one more time as Bird and the Phoenix Mercury's Taurasi were named the starting guards for the Western Conference in the WNBA All-Star Game to be played July 22 at KeyArena in Seattle.
In total, five UConn graduates were named as starters by the WNBA Tuesday.
Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx will join Taurasi and Bird in the West lineup. Tina Charles of the New York Liberty and Tiffany Hayes of the Atlanta Dream will start for the East.
The other East starters are Jasmine Thomas and Jonquel Jones of the Connecticut Sun and the Washington Mystics' Elena Delle Donne. The other two starters for the West are Minnesota's Sylvia Fowles and Los Angeles' Candace Parker. The reserves will be announced next Tuesday.
Bird will be making her 10th All-Star appearance, matching the WNBA record of former Indiana Fever star Tamika Catchings, and eighth start. She is averaging 10.5 points and a league-leading 6.7 assists per game.
Taurasi, who is averaging 18.1 points and 2.7 assists, is an All-Star for the eighth time, all as a starter.
In the 52 games they started together at UConn, the Huskies went 51-1 with the only loss being to Notre Dame in the 2001 Final Four semifinals. In the 47 games they started together in Olympic or world championship play, Team USA went 46-1 with the only loss being to Russia in the 2006 world championships semifinals.
On June 18, Taurasi passed Tina Thompson to become the WNBA all-time leading scorer. On June 1, she became the league's all-time leader in 3-point baskets when she passed Katie Smith.
"I'm incredibly proud of her as a friend and even as an opponent," Bird said when the Storm visited Mohegan Sun Arena on June 29. "If anyone deserves something like that, it's D. Not only is she an amazing player but she put the work in. For a long time it was an inevitable thing. We knew she would break the scoring record at some point. Now she can keep playing and put it out of reach."
Bird, meanwhile, is just 88 assists away from passing Ticha Penicheiro and becoming the WNBA's leader in that category.
"When it comes to a milestone like that you're talking about a full career," Bird said. "It speaks to longevity. It speaks to consistency. For assists, it speaks to my teammates who put the ball in the basket when I get it to them. In 10 years, 20 years when I look back if I do break the record, it will be something that I'll be proud of."
Moore received the most votes from the fans (32,866). Fans accounted for 50 percent of the vote to determine the starters for the All-Star Game while current players and a media panel accounted for 25 percent each.
It will be Moore's fifth All-Star Game appearance. She is averaging 15.4 points and 5.5 rebounds and was the Most Valuable Player the last time the game was played in 2015. There was no game a year ago due to the Olympics.
Charles, who is second in the league in scoring (20.8) and third in rebounds (9.1) is also an All-Star for the fifth time and is a starter for the first time.
Hayes will be making her first All-Star Game appearance as she picked up the most votes among East guards from all three voting groups. The sixth-year pro is averaging career bests of 16.6 points, 4.5 assists, and 1.7 steals.
Minnesota's Cheryl Reeve will coach the West and New York's Bill Laimbeer will guide the East. The Lynx and Liberty finished with the best regular-season records in their respective conferences in 2016.
FOUR HUSKIES TO ATTEND U-23 TRIALS
UConn All-Americans Gabby Williams, Napheesa Collier, and Katie Lou Samuelson, along with Azura Stevens, are headed to Colorado Springs for USA Basketball's U-23 national team trials July 31-Aug. 4.
The four also know where they'll be headed once the trials are over -- back to Storrs to join their UConn teammates for practice prior to the Huskies' trip to Italy.
They will not be part of the 12-member team that will represent the United States in the inaugural U-23 Four Nations Tournament to be held Aug. 12-25 in Tokyo, Japan.
The experience and competition at the United States Olympic Training Center, though, are too good for the four to pass up.
During camp, athletes will take part in sessions dedicated to skill development and to understanding the culture of success that is an important aspect of playing for USA Basketball. Additionally, the participants will be divided into four teams that will compete in a round-robin tournament that results in semifinals and gold and bronze medal games.
Auriemma will serve as the lead clinician during the first three days of camp before he heads back to Storrs to run the Huskies' workouts.
Among the top players trying out to make the team are South Carolina All-American and SEC Player of the Year A'ja Wilson, Ohio State All-American and Big Ten Player of the Year Kelsey Mitchell, and Big 12 Player of the Year Texas' Brooke McCarty.