The Spotlight is Limitless for Taurasi, Mercury

By Ben York,
Posted: May 13, 2013

Nothing distinguishes it from any other storage space in the Phoenix Mercury offices. There isn’t an elaborate code to open it, no separate laser cut key that unlocks it.

It’s just kind of…there.

In fact, I’ve passed by it hundreds of times without ever knowing its contents.

The “Diana Cabinet” (as I’ve dubbed it) is home to the vast majority of individual awards and hardware she has amassed over the years (most notably her 2009 WNBA MVP Award).

A visual narrative of her Hall of Fame career, if you will.

That’s not to say the awards mean nothing to her. It’s simply that the few Taurasi does choose to display are ones she’s accomplished as a team.

(And by “few” I mean less than a handful.)

If she wanted, Diana Taurasi could devote an entire room to everything she’s won as an individual over the years and still need to rent out a storage locker for the overflow.

To Taurasi, displaying individual honors goes against every fiber of her being. She couldn’t have won those awards without her teammates, so it just feels wrong to (by association) boast about the recognition she received.

If you think about it, the logic is bulletproof. After all, there is, perhaps, no one who embodies the doctrine of “teamwork” better than Diana Taurasi.

Anytime a professional sports team acquires a household name in their market, it’s a big deal – and rightfully so.

It’s no different in terms of the Phoenix Mercury and Brittney Griner.

But any notion that, by doing so, it’s creating jealousy or resentment from Diana Taurasi is preposterous.

“This must be killing Diana [Taurasi],” I heard one random reporter say on media day. “Brittney [Griner] is stealing her spotlight.”

There are three things fundamentally wrong with that statement:

1. Diana Taurasi has never sought out the “spotlight.” Thus, to assert that it’s being stolen from her is faulty reasoning.

2. Conversely, Brittney Griner doesn’t want to steal anything. She wants to win basketball games and make an impact on and off the floor.

3. The Phoenix Mercury is not (and has never been) about one player or person. It sounds tired, but the entire organization has always been about the collective whole – and the team personifies that creed every single day.

This isn’t breaking news. If you spend any amount of time with the Mercury, you’ll come away with the same sentiments.

Now, call it a blessing or a curse, but I have a rare gift of typically knowing when someone is being genuine or not. It’s my version of Spidey-sense. That and stubbing my toe every time I walk by my coffee table are like my super powers.

So when I asked Diana Taurasi about her thoughts on Brittney Griner, the genuine excitement was practically oozing out of her so loud that it was deafening.

“Oh my gosh,” she said with a trademark Taurasi smile. “Obviously the dunking is amazing; it is one thing to see it on television but seeing it up close is unreal. It’s effortless for her. But it’s also the little things she does like alter shots on the defensive end of the floor; if that can give us a few more possessions every game it would be huge. She moves way better than I thought and is really agile for such a tall person. But more than anything, she is just a good kid. A really good kid. We have a chance to be good. Her presence is going to help everyone – me, Penny [Taylor], Candice [Dupree], DB [DeWanna Bonner, Sammy [Prahalis], everybody.”

The spotlight is big enough for Taurasi, Griner and the entire Phoenix Mercury team because there isn’t one.