For Taurasi, 6,000 is Just a Number

By Ben York,
Posted: August 12, 2013

“Yeah!” Diana Taurasi hollers, fraught with sarcasm, when a member of the media informs her she reached 6,000 career points during Sunday’s victory over the Tulsa Shock.

“I’ll be happy when I get to 10,000,” adds Taurasi, jokingly, with a smile.

In a very real way, reaching that milestone is somewhat uncomfortable for her. It takes attention away from the team’s win.

Scoring, after all, is often mischaracterized as a personal statistic or action.

It invokes the same emotion in Taurasi as the one she feels during every pregame introduction. Rather than consciously wait until her name is called with the spotlight shining solely on her, as soon as the player’s name before her is announced, Taurasi has already joined the huddle with the rest of the team.

It’s unnerving for Taurasi to be alone in the limelight; something about it doesn’t feel right.

This isn’t tennis or golf (and even then she’d find a way to credit others). This is basketball – five on five. In order for Taurasi to score, someone has to make a defensive stop, someone has to call out a play and someone has to pass her the ball.

When there’s enough recognition to include the entire team, then she’s at ease.

In true Taurasi fashion, she quickly dismissed the individual significance of reaching 6,000 points and redirects the focus to current and past teammates and coaches.

“It is cool,” she said. “You do not get to 6,000 [points] without great coaches, great teams, great players around you. You do not get there. You have to have really good people around you every step of the way.”

Taurasi had no idea she was anywhere near that mark, not to mention being the fastest player in league history to reach it.

It’s not surprising, though, considering she wasn’t aware when she surpassed 5,000 points until someone told her afterwards.

Or 4,000… 3,000… you get the idea.

For the “White Mamba” (as Kobe Bryant – the “Black Mamba”– dubbed her), it’s just a number. Taurasi would rather talk about her fondness for the WNBA’s current all-time leading scorer, Tina Thompson.

“Tina’s been great,” Taurasi said about Thompson. “I’ve known her since I was really young. My first stint with her was on the national team in 2004, and then we played three years together in Russia, so Tina and I have been through battles, we've won championships together in Europe, the Olympics, World Championships, I have the upmost respect for Tina.”

Based on some of the amazing shots she’s hit over her career, it was a relatively simple layup for Taurasi that led to her 6,000th point. With the Mercury up 44-18 and in total control of the game, the two points simply extended their lead and was just another step in the right direction for Taurasi and the team.

In fact, Taurasi became the most animated and excited all game when she assisted on a DeWanna Bonner three-pointer later on.

“It’s never been about me,” said Taurasi. “I mean, who really cares about that stuff? The camaraderie, working together to achieve something great, being on a team, winning – that’s what has always made me happy. There’s something gratifying about working together to achieve a goal, no matter how hard it might be.

“Points are great. Winning is better.”

These aren’t just words; she lives them.