Diana Taurasi: Michael Jordan ‘was the guy that everyone wanted to be like’

After ESPN aired the final two episodes of “The Last Dance” Michael Jordan-Chicago Bulls 1990s documentary, The Worldwide Leader brought one GOAT to reflect on another GOAT.

Diana Taurasi, the three-time WNBA champion with the Phoenix Mercury, spoke with ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt after the doc’s final episodes and reflected on how she grew up watching Jordan.

I’m just so happy I got to see him play and I got to appreciate him just for a basketball player.

–Diana Taurasi (ESPN)

He was the guy that everyone wanted to be like … It didn’t matter what team you went for, you were a Jordan fan.

–Diana Taurasi (ESPN)

All greats in any sport not only are great talentwise. They have the intangibles that make them all-time greats. Jordan had that. Taurasi still has that. She talked about how one of the attributes that made her appreciate Jordan even more was that he was consumed by wanting to win even when he was away from the court.

People just think it’s when you walk into the gym and then you leave. He’s the type of person that carried it with him everywhere. I mean, everywhere he went, you felt that competitive spirit. When he’s on the plane … and those things, to me, resonate. When I’m in a season, I give everything I have. It consumes my whole life.

–Diana Taurasi (ESPN)

There’s going to be another Jordan, there’s going to be another me, but you’ve got to give up your life … he gave up his life to be the best basketball player in the world.

–Diana Taurasi (ESPN)

Van Pelt immediately asked Taurasi if it was worth it for her to “give up her life” to be one of basketball’s all time greats. She responded with a resounding yes.

There’s a lot of things I didn’t get to do, like my senior prom. Oh well.

–Diana Taurasi (ESPN)

Taurasi reflected on an experience she had while at Jordan’s summer camp in California when she was in high school. After everyone played a round of HORSE, Taurasi said she attempted a free throw which would have won her a pair of free Jordans. She bricked the try at the stripe but still assumed she would cop the free kicks.

Taurasi did not get the kicks. Then…

I came back a year later as a counselor when I was at UConn and the first thing he tells me…he goes, ‘Hey, Dee, how are those free throws going?’ And I’m just like, this guy won’t let it go. He won’t let it go. I mean, I’m 18 years old. And he’s getting on me. I loved it.

–Diana Taurasi (ESPN)

She did say that if she was in a similar situation as Jordan was that she would be just as hard as he feels he was on her all out of “tough love.”

When you go through these long seasons and … you’re with each other all the time, the people you hate the most sometimes are your teammates. Those are the people you want to punch in the face mostly. And then you get to take it out on the opponent.

–Diana Taurasi (ESPN)

Taurasi believed that the message that came from the documentary is a message that she has already lived up to her entire career and her entire life – that hard work is what sets apart good from great.

Even when he played baseball, he was probably the worst dude out there and he was in the batting cage six or seven hours a day. You know, if you really want to do something, you have to put everything into it.

–Diana Taurasi (ESPN)

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