When Diana Taurasi nailed a layup on Phoenix Mercury’s game against Los Angeles Sparks on June 18, the game was stopped as the crowd at the Staples Center, including LA Laker’s star Kobe Bryant, gave her a standing ovation. History was made as the 35-year-old WNBA star is now the league’s top scorer at 7,494 career points in 377 games, breaking Tina Thompson’s mark of 7,488 points in 496 games.
More than piling up points and the “big numbers,” though, Taurasi believes being the best teammate comes first. Diana knows that one person doing her own thing does not win basketball, but rather, it’s a collaborative effort between her and her teammates.
“Personalities are just as important as talent on teams,” Taurasi said. “There have been teams I’ve played on that, frankly, weren’t good talent wise. But everyone was on the same page trying to get the same things done, and you can live with that.”
“Then there have been teams with different agendas, which ripped the fabric of just wanting to win. And then you’re too busy fixing yourself and your team, instead of working on beating other teams. That’s when things become very difficult.”
The six-foot guard is an elite-level scorer, as regarded by ESPN; she can pull up jumpers, hit turnaround shots from the baseline, and get shots inside when they’re open. Additionally, her three-point shooting is something she would be remembered for even after she retires. Taurasi now has 933 three-point shots fired in her career, which includes the four three-pointers she performed on Sunday’s game.
— WNBA (@WNBA) June 19, 2017
Among Taurasi’s achievements is winning three NCAA titles at UConn, three WNBA titles with Phoenix, and four Olympic gold medals, where she led the U.S. Women’s national basketball team in 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 to victory.
Thompson was all praises for the new WNBA top scorer saying that it was her absolute pleasure to pass the torch to Taurasi.
“Diana is one of the best players to ever play the game and definitely one of my favorites. She has done amazing things and I am so grateful that I’ve been able to share many of those with her.”
During Sunday game’s halftime, Bryant talked with ESPN about Taurasi’s scoring record and her nickname. He relays how she had come up to him during a tournament and said, “I’m the White Mamba.”
Bryant, of course, known as the Black Mamba, could only respond, “Yes, you are—you’ve got every bit the temperament.”
The Lakers superstar expressed his admiration for Taurasi’s work ethic, saying that she’s extremely consistent and works extremely hard. He also shared how happy he was to have witnessed Diana’s historical moment with his two daughters in tow, especially since it was Father’s Day.
Meanwhile, the Cavaliers’ LeBron James was all praises for the WNBA star. Taking to Twitter, LeBron passed on his congratulations to Diana saying that she set the standard not only for women’s basketball as many girls look up to her, but basketball in general. LeBron expressed his respect at Taurasi’s level of professionalism and dedication on the court.
— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) June 18, 2017
Taurasi recently signed an extension through 2020 as she shows no sign of slowing down. She has just recently tied the knot with her partner and former teammate Penny Taylor, a retired three-time WNBA champion and current director of player personnel for Mercury. Phoenix Mercury’s next game is on June 23 at 10 p.m. ET against Seattle Storm.
[Featured Image by Harry How/Getty Images]