A Decade of Diana: No. 1
By Ben York, PhoenixMercury.com
Posted: April 11, 2013
In celebration of Diana Taurasi being named as the X-Factor’s Favorite Mercury Player of All-Time, and coinciding with the superstar entering her 10th year with the Mercury in 2013, PhoenixMercury.com has launched a special tribute series entitled, “A Decade of Diana.” Every Thursday starting Feb. 7 for 10 weeks, we’ll relive Taurasi’s 10 best moments with the team since her arrival in 2004.
Taurasi Moment No. 1: April 17, 2004
Narrowing down all of the memorable moments that Diana Taurasi has had in a Phoenix Mercury uniform was not easy, to say the least. As the All-Star enters her 10th season in 2013 as a member of the Mercury, our original list included 27 milestones (which was trimmed down from 41).
Still, there was never a question what the No. 1 moment would be in the ‘A Decade of Diana’ countdown: The day the Phoenix Mercury drafted her.
It was an early Saturday morning on April 17, 2004. Hours before the draft was to take place, hundreds of fans gathered outside of America West Arena nearby the team’s draft headquarters. Unable to fit every fan inside the official draft party, television sets were immediately set-up at the arena’s team shop so each member of the X-Factor could join in on the celebration.
“It was surreal,” said long-time fan Bobby Newcomb. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Maybe it will be surpassed by this year’s excitement for the Mercury’s No. 1 pick, but even if it comes close that’s a huge deal. I read that 500 people were estimated being there, but I’d put it closer to 700 at its peak. And this was on a Saturday morning around 6:00 A.M.
“Everybody just wanted to see Diana holding up a Mercury jersey, even for a few seconds.”
When the pick was announced, the crowd erupted into a deafening roar. Newcomb reminisces about the euphoric moment.
“It definitely surprised me,” he said. “Maybe I was naïve, but I didn’t know how passionate fans were about Taurasi joining the team. I remember looking around and seeing people jumping up and down, smiling, all of that. So I let my guard down and joined in! I’m sure I’m not the only Mercury fan who will never forget that moment.”
At the time, the hype regarding Taurasi joining the Mercury was palpable; the buzz was previously unheard of in the WNBA. People compared her arrival to some of her male counterparts in the NBA, and labeled it as a potential paradigm shift in the popularity of the league.
For Mercury fans, they knew something was different (and special) about Taurasi.
“I remember meeting her at an event for fans,” recalls Mercury fan Joann Keeble. “I was star-struck, but she was so down to earth that it was like talking to a lifelong friend. For someone with her star power to be that humble was so refreshing. The best part is that she is the exact same way today with everything she’s accomplished in between.”
Not many people know this, but Diana Taurasi was the first No. 1 pick for any Phoenix professional sports team.
Two WNBA Championships later, I’d say the pick worked out pretty well.
“Taurasi made me a true fan of women’s basketball,” Keeble added. “I followed it before, but there’s just something about her that I identified with. Plus, she’s someone I respect both as a human being and a basketball player.
“I think those of us who live in Phoenix are lucky, you know? I’ll never take it for granted that we get to see her play each summer for the Mercury.”
A Decade of Diana