For me, the indelible, iconic Diana Taurasi moment comes from her UConn Husky days. 20 years ago, upon leading an inexperienced UConn team to a second-straight national championship, Taurasi, then a junior, punted the ball into the rafters immediately after the buzzer sounded.
The boundary-pushing boldness of her celebration encapsulates the attitude that, on Thursday night, resulted in Taurasi scoring her 10,000th point in the WNBA.
Early in the third quarter, after nailing an absurd, shot-clocking beating 3-pointer, Taurasi came off a screen on the right wing, caught the pass from Moriah Jefferson and rose for the 3-point attempt that would give her an even 10,000 points. Swish!
After the game, Taurasi reflected on the moment, sharing:
At that point, I was just trying to find a good shot — or a bad shot. It was going up. But I’m kind of happy it happened with a 3. I’m happy that someone set a screen. I’m happy that someone passed me the ball. That’s how basketball is played, with everyone having a little part, and it’s perfect.
And, she was not done. Hitting the historic 10,000-point mark only supercharged Taurasi. She would go on to score 42 points, her most ever in a regular season game. The explosion earned her additional records:
- Most games of 40 or more points in WNBA history (4 games)
- Oldest player to score 40 or more points in WNBA history
- Second-most points scored in a second half in WNBA history (32 points)
Taurasi ended the night with 10,024 points, and the Mercury, having lost four-straight games, ended it with a needed victory, defeating the Atlanta Dream 91-71.
To further honor Taurasi and her milestone- and myth-making masterpiece, enjoy some of Swish Appeal’s past coverage of the Mercury legend:
- Early in the 2018 WNBA season, former editor-in-chief Tamryn Spruill conducted an extensive interview with Taurasi, where Taurasi explained how her more intensive prehab/rehab regimen and transition to veganism were allowing her to extend her career. The two also discussed Taurasi relationship with Kobe Bryant, including Bryant blessing Taurasi with the “White Mamba” nickname. On sharing “Mamba blood” with Bryant, Taurasi said:
They don’t anoint people anymore. They don’t put the sword on your shoulder anymore, [so] when they do you have to take it really serious. And I’ve taken it really serious.
- In 2019, I ranked Taurasi as the second-best WNBA player of the 2010s, only behind her birthday buddy and fellow UConn Husky Maya Moore. Along with accounting for all her accomplishments, I emphasized how her attitude is essential to her greatness, writing:
She is just a hooper — a passionate, proud and profane hooper. But because she is a no holds barred hooper, Taurasi has had great influence on the women’s game. She has introduced a new way of being for a woman athlete; one unconcerned with apologies, only with kicking your a**.
- When Taurasi passed the 9,000-point plateau in June of 2021, former editor-in-chief Zack Ward recapped how she did it in signature Taurasi fashion, hitting the historic bucket in a game in which she scored a then season-high 25 points, converted all nine of her free throw attempts and drained 50 percent of her eight 3-point attempts.
- In the 2021 playoffs, Taurasi again unleashed a venomous, vintage performance worthy of the “White Mamba” moniker. The then 39-year-old Taurasi poured in a playoff career-high 37 points to clinch the Mercury a spot in the 2021 WNBA Finals. Here’s how Zack opened his recap of the action:
Diana Taurasi, age 39 and recovering from an ankle injury, set a personal playoff career high with 37 points off 8-of-11 shooting from beyond the arc, including one triple made over 6-foot-8 Liz Cambage that epitomized a Thursday night where nothing could go wrong for the Phoenix Mercury en route to a 117-91 semifinal series-evening win over the Las Vegas Aces at Michelob Ultra Arena.