For 16 seasons, Diana Taurasi established herself as one of the most decorated players in the 25-year history of the WNBA in the Valley, and that’s where she wants to remain and finish out the rest of her career… And eventually, win another title in the process.
She already has three (2007, 2009, 2014), but it’s been a minute and as she enters the twilight of her incomparable career, Taurasi wants to taste the thrill of victory again, similar to how her UConn alum Sue Bird took one late in her career in the WNBA Wubble a few months ago.
Recharged by her play last summer in Bradenton, Florida, Taurasi is eager to run it back with the Mercury this season.
“It was one of those times in my life where it (the bubble) could have either broke me as a player in a lot of ways or it could have pushed me forward and forge myself to take this offseason as seriously as I’ve taken any other one,” Taurasi said during her zoom press conference recently.
“The Bubble was big for me in a way of just proving to myself that I can still play at a high level and still contribute to this team to win a championship, which is what we are trying to do in these next two, three years,” she continued.
After a 13-9 record and a second-round exit in the playoffs, the Phoenix Mercury’s focused, refreshed and ready to run it back.
Coming into the season, with a core of Skylar Diggins-Smith, Brittney Griner and Taurasi, Phoenix got a glimpse of how good they could be during the Wubble — if everyone is healthy.
Taurasi had to fully recover from back surgery to repair a bulging disk, and also she dealt with a hamstring injury and tendinitis. The WNBA’s all-time leading scorer says it took 10 games into Wubble play to feel whole.
“It seemed like at that point that I was never going to be able to feel just healthy,” Taurasi told The Shadow League, “And it was unfortunate that there weren’t more games…”
In addition to her play in the Wubble, Mercury GM Jim Pittman and head coach Sandy Brondello made sure to let Taurasi — who was then an unrestricted free agent — know that she was not only immensely appreciated, but also a part of their future plans to make more runs at a championship.
They reached out to Taurasi and virtually closed the deal via a Zoom meeting. There were other teams that were interested in the WNBA star but it didn’t matter, Taurasi was staying in Phoenix. The desire to stay was solidified by the vision of Pittman and Brondello.
The Mercury, with Taurasi, Diggins-Smith and Griner didn’t need a makeover.
They already have the equivalent of rap’s Migos, which is a great starting point. The vision had more to do with plans on how they were going to win a title with most of the roster intact sans a few additions.
“That’s kind of what I wanted to hear,” Taurasi shared, “That’s where I want to get back to. I love to play basketball. I have fun doing it, but it’s always a little bit better when you win and you have that vision and that burning desire that you’re doing it to win a championship.”
Watch out for Phoenix this season as there’s more of a sense of desperation to get the woman whom many consider The WNBA’s GOAT one more title in 2021.