August 21, 2007
Six Degrees of Bird, Taurasi, Jackson ...
By Brian Martin,

The concept of Six Degrees of Separation states that everyone in the world is connected to everyone else in the world by a chain of no more than six acquaintances. This theory was the basis for the popular 1990s game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, where the actor could be linked to any other actor through their film roles.

The Phoenix Mercury and Seattle Storm have so many connections that they don�t even need six degrees; in many cases they don�t need any at all. When the Mercury and Storm open their first round playoff series on Friday night, it will be a reunion on many levels as former college teammates, WNBA teammates, national team teammates and overseas teammates will meet at Key Arena.

Let�s start with the All-Stars � Phoenix�s Diana Taurasi, Penny Taylor and Cappie Pondexter and Seattle�s Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson. The All-Star connection is too easy, so we�ll connect them in few more ways.

Taurasi and Bird were teammates at the University of Connecticut; Taurasi, Bird and Jackson just won the EuroLeague championship as teammates for Spartak Moscow; and Taurasi, Bird and Pondexter are all teammates on the United States Senior National Team (coached by Seattle�s Anne Donovan by the way).

Speaking of national teams, Jackson, Taylor and Phoenix�s Belinda Snell are all members of the Australian National Team, the Opals. And just so the players don't start to miss each other after this series, Team USA and the Opals will play two exhibition games on Sept. 16 and 19, just days after the WNBA Finals.

Do you want more evidence? Take a look at the chart below and the key that follows for all of the Mercury-Storm connections.

Blue Arrows: Connecticut Huskies

  • Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi � teammates at the University of Connecticut, 2000-01, 2001-02
  • Kelly Schumacher and Sue Bird � teammates at the University of Connecticut, 1999-00, 2000-01, 2001-02
  • Kelly Schumacher and Diana Taurasi � teammates at the University of Connecticut, 2001-02

    Yellow Arrows: Russia

  • Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Lauren Jackson � teammates for Spartak Moscow Region, 2007

    Green Arrows: Australia

  • Lauren Jackson, Penny Taylor and Belinda Snell � teammates on the Australian Women�s National Team, the Opals

    Red Arrows: United States

  • Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Cappie Pondexter � teammates on the United States Women�s Senior National Team, coached by Anne Donovan

    Gray Arrow: Tulane Green Wave

  • Janell Burse and Teana Miller � teammates at Tulane University, 2000-01

    Brown Arrow: Penn State Nittany Lions

  • Kelly Mazzante and Tanisha Wright � teammates at Penn State University, 2001-02, 2002-03, 2003-04

    Orange Arrow: Childhood, Phoenix Mercury

  • Diana Taurasi and Ashley Robinson � childhood friends from the eighth grade and AAU teammates; Robinson was drafted by the Phoenix Mercury in 2004 and played her first two seasons in the WNBA in Phoenix; Robinson's current Storm teammate Iziane Castro Marques was also a member of the Mercury early in her career, spending a year in Phoenix in 2003

    Purple Arrow: Connecticut Sun

  • Jen Derevjanik and Wendy Palmer � teammates on the Connecticut Sun team that lost to the Storm in the 2004 Finals

    Pink Arrow: Cleveland Rockers

  • Penny Taylor and Betty Lennox � teammates on the Cleveland Rockers, 2003