Diana Taurasi is in a league of her own.
The Phoenix Mercury veteran became the first player in WNBA history to reach 10,000 points during the Mercury’s matchup against the Atlanta Dream on Thursday. Taurasi, 41, achieved the feat in front of a home crowd in Phoenix that’s watched her score each and every point in the Mercury’s purple and orange.
It was only appropriate that Taurasi knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers in 33 seconds to hit the milestone in the third quarter of the game, as the Mercury led 51-39. Her teammates collectively gathered in a group hug around her as the crowd went wild.
Taurasi has been the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer since June 18, 2017 when she surpassed Tina Thompson’s previous record of 7,488 points, but the 10-time WNBA All-Star continues to add to her total and further solidify her status as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
She was the first WNBA player to reach 8,000 points and 9,000 points, let alone 10,000 points. But to Taurasi, the stats come second to her love of the game.
“I really don’t think about the number. I’ve always said, ‘I only think about basketball because I love to play.’ Literally that’s the only reason I show (up) to the gym right now,” she said Tuesday.
Taurasi was selected by the Mercury with the first overall pick in the 2004 WNBA draft after a standout career at UConn, where she led the Huskies to three national championships. Phoenix posted an 8–26 record in 2003, before her arrival. But Taurasi turned the Mercury into a winner and collected several accolades along the way.
She won the WNBA Rookie of the Year Award in the 2004 season and led the Mercury to its first WNBA championship in 2007. Taurasi and the Mercury hoisted the championship trophy again in 2009 and 2014, with Taurasi earning WNBA Finals MVP honors both years. She was also named the league MVP in 2009.
“When you are in a place for 20 years, you get to see everything,” Taurasi said Tuesday after dropping 29 points against the Indiana Fever. “You get to see the highs of the highs, which I’ve been to, and I’ve been to the lows of the lows. There is something to be said about going through all those stages with the one team. You learn a lot about yourself when you are in these situations.”
Taurasi’s 10,000-point milestone is a highlight in an otherwise disappointing season for the Mercury, who welcomed All-Star center Brittney Griner back following her 10-month detainment in Russia. Phoenix is 6-19 entering Thursday’s game, tied for last place. Head coach Vanessa Nygaard was fired as a result in late June.
PHOENIX MERCURY:Brittney Griner will miss two games to focus on her mental health
The 19-year WNBA veteran described her love of basketball as an “obsession” and “addiction,” but noted that underwhelming seasons, such as this one, have made her ponder hanging up her sneakers for good.
“I’ve given my life to this game. I still love to play, I love to prepare and I love to compete. That’s why I keep coming back, but years like this take a toll on you,” Taurasi said Tuesday. “Sometimes it feels like insanity. Even when I’m doing it, I think, ‘I should be in Hawaii, hanging out with my family and my kids and I’m in Indianapolis.'”
Taurasi has two children, son Leo and daughter Isla, with wife Penny Taylor, a former teammate.
“Hopefully, I keep coming back,” Taurasi added. “Maybe not.”
Taurasi’s legacy extends beyond the Mercury and WNBA. She’s won five Olympic gold medals (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020) and and three FIBA World Cups (2010, 2014, and 2018) while representing the United States. She’s one of only 16 players to win an Olympic gold medal, WNBA championship and NCAA title.
Who are WNBA’s all-time leading scorers?
Here’s the WNBA’s top 10 all-time scorers, as of Wednesday:
- Diana Taurasi: 9,982 points, 521 games
- *Tina Thompson: 7,488 points, 496 games
- *Tamika Catchings: 7,380 points, 457 games
- Tina Charles: 7,115 points, 391 games
- Candice Dupree: 6,895, 494 games
- Cappie Pondexter: 6,811 points, 416 games
- Sue Bird: 6,803 points, 580 games
- DeWanna Bonner: 6,680 points, 448 games
- Candace Parker: 6,574 points, 410 games
- *Katie Smith: 6,452 points, 482 games
* Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductees, (b) active WNBA player