All-Time Merc: No. 2, Penny Taylor
Posted: Jan. 31, 2013
As voted by you, the X-Factor, we’re counting down your top 10 All-Time Favorite Mercury players in franchise history.
Starting December 6, we’ll reveal the results of the nearly 2,000 votes we received on a weekly basis every Thursday.
No. 2: Penny Taylor
Years with the Mercury: 2004 - present
Total Percentage of Votes: 71.3%
“I had a lift and went for a little jog,” Penny Taylor nonchalantly said to me towards the latter part of the 2009 season.
It was an off day for the team as they were preparing for the first round of the playoffs. I was on my way to the arena and passed her in the hallway as she was leaving, before mentioning that she’d be back for practice later that afternoon.
In my mind, a “lift” and “little jog” means doing a couple bicep curls and walking on the treadmill for a few minutes.
However, upon further investigation, I quickly learned that to superstars like Penny Taylor, a “lift” means working on plyometrics for over an hour and a “little jog” means putting up several hundred full-court, back-and-forth jumpers.
She’s not one to make a big deal out of how hard she works and the effort it takes to perform at the level she has as a professional basketball player for over a decade. In Penny Taylor talk, an “alright” game would mean a Mercury win with her scoring 24 points, grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out six assists – which means, in her mind, she’s played “alright” for the Mercury nearly every night since 2004.
But that’s just Penny.
To be blunt, there are few people in this world that I respect more than Penny Taylor.
Not just as a basketball player, but as a human being.
We hear statements like that all the time, don’t we? That a player is equally as celebrated off the court as they are on it. And, unfortunately, as a side effect, maybe that phrase has lost some of its luster.
There’s a chance Penny Taylor will never get the credit she truly deserves for her contributions to the Phoenix Mercury for reasons out of her control. Certainly, she doesn’t have the colorful personality on the court that Diana Taurasi has, or perhaps some of the flash that other players are gifted with.
But as Penny has said many times, the individual accolades are a contradiction to how she views the sport of basketball.
It’s not about one player; it’s about the team.
There isn’t really a way to articulate how significant her impact on the Mercury has been, nor a proper description of the type of player she is. In my opinion, it’s a disservice to Penny to simply say she is “versatile” or “tough;” it goes far beyond that.
Since her arrival in 2004, Penny Taylor has never shot less than 45 percent from the floor or 85 percent from the free-throw line for the Mercury. She has averaged five or more rebounds six times, and four or more assists four times.
No other player in the league can make the same claim.
She is the second-longest tenured player in team history, has the second highest career field goal percentage in franchise history (.487) and is the career leader in 3-point percentage (.406) and free throw percentage (.877).
Needless to say, her versatility and toughness are just part of the magnificence, finesse, intelligence, devotion and commitment that makes up Penny Taylor.
But I think what the X-Factor ultimately loves most about Penny is how she can always be counted on.
And, honestly, there aren’t many players in the league you can say that about. There’s no question what you’ll get out of Penny Taylor every season. As I mentioned above, yes, she’s “versatile” but not just good in multiple facets of the game, she’s great. Yes, she’s “tough,” but few realize how much of a beating she takes every game, every season, every year.
(Remember the elbow she took in the mouth during Game 2 of the 2009 WNBA Finals? Ouch.)
Still, the first word I think of when someone mentions Penny Taylor is modesty. It’s a hugely appealing trait that Penny has and it comes as naturally as breathing. It’s been said that, “once you think you’re humble, you aren’t anymore.”
For Penny, the humility she displays is instinctive.
We’re lucky to have her, X-Factor.
All-Time Favorite Mercury
Be sure to visit PhoenixMercury.com next week on Thursday, February 7 to see who you voted as your All-Time Favorite Mercury player!