It was a mark that many knew would fall sometime this season, but even when said mark finally did fall, few could question the greatness of the Phoenix Mercury’s Diana Taurasi and the impact she has had on the sport of women’s basketball.
It happened on Sunday when the Mercury were on the road facing the Los Angeles Sparks at Staples Center. The Mercury suffered defeat in blowout fashion with the final being 90-59, but late in the second quarter, Taurasi further cemented her place in WNBA history.
The bucket that made Diana Taurasi the all-time leading scorer in #WNBA history.
— WNBA (@WNBA) June 18, 2017
By the end of the contest, in which she needed only 14 points to break the record, her career scoring mark climbed to a robust 7,489 points. The record she broke previously belonged to Tina Thompson, who played 17 seasons. Taurasi is in her 13th.
She and I have shared so many amazing moments throughout our basketball careers, whether it was gold medals, championships, or All-Star games. Diana is one of the best players to ever play the game and definitely one of my favorites.
Among Taurasi’s long list of accomplishments in her career include winning four Olympic gold medals. On two of those teams, she and Thompson were teammates—for the 2004 rendition in Athens and the 2008 version in Beijing.
— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) June 18, 2017
The Mercury have also since announced that they will further celebrate Taurasi’s historic achievement with “Taurasi Night” on June 30 when the Mercury host the Minnesota Lynx. The night is set to include video messages, a banner reveal, and bobbleheads to the first 5,000 fans in attendance.
It’s pretty special when you pass Tina in anything, she’s been such an amazing player for the WNBA and just for basketball in general, she’s such an icon.
–Diana Taurasi per Yahoo Sports
You just start thinking about all the great players you’ve played with, all the games. It was pretty special that I got to do it in front of my family on Father’s Day in L.A. So a lot of good things today. I’m just happy and really thankful.
Obviously, the significance of Taurasi setting the new all-time mark cannot be understated. There has been plenty of conversation already even prior to her passing Thompson that Taurasi belongs on the WNBA’s Mount Rushmore. With this to go along with her four Olympic gold medals, seven All-Star appearances (could be eight after July 22) and three WNBA titles, there may not be much question she belongs there now.
What is perhaps even more significant is she may not be done. She recently extended her contract with the Mercury through 2020 and there has been plenty of chatter that she will come back for one more Olympics in 2020 when the Games emanate from Tokyo.
Women’s basketball needs a standard bearer—not just now, but for the future. And there are plenty of women’s players past and present that can be just that—whether it is Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie, Swin Cash, and Tina Thompson, or Diana Taurasi, Candace Parker, Maya Moore, or Breanna Stewart.
Young girls growing up dribbling basketballs are so used to seeing the exploits of LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook because their accomplishments as male basketball players are much more ballyhooed, unfortunately.
Not taking anything away from the NBA’s great players, but the Diana Taurasi’s of the game can be standard bearers for the future. When we have a generation of young girls who hope to one day hoop for Tennessee or UConn or South Carolina or Stanford or Maryland, and they say phrases like the one below, it will be safe to say women’s basketball will have turned a significant and exciting corner.
I want to be the next Diana Taurasi.
— WNBA (@WNBA) June 19, 2017
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) June 19, 2017
Can't even begin to express how much @DianaTaurasi influenced my career. She's changed the game and inspired so many! Congrats DT!
— Elena Delle Donne (@De11eDonne) June 20, 2017
— Swin Cash (@SwinCash) June 18, 2017
— Carli Lloyd (@CarliLloyd) June 18, 2017
— Devin Booker (@DevinBook) June 18, 2017
— Greg Stanton (@MayorStanton) June 18, 2017