“It’s sort of like a reunion,” Diana Taurasi said at the pre-All-Star teleconference.
Appearing in her eighth career All-Star game, Taurasi is accustomed to seeing some familiar faces during All-Star weekend. While a WNBA record ten players will be appearing in their first All-Star game (eight for the East and two for the West), others such as Sue Bird, Maya Moore, Sylvia Fowles, Tina Charles and Candace Parker are veterans.
“There are a lot of the same feelings once you get here in the locker room with the best players in the league. A lot of them now have played on National teams together, on overseas teams together. I went to college with Sue [Bird],” Taurasi said.
When asked what advice she would give to the first-time participants, Taurasi said:
“Enjoy every moment. Really soak it up. Sometimes that nervousness makes you a little bit shy but I’ve been telling a couple of them to really enjoy it, really take it in. And then when you get on the court, it’s time to shine.”
On her part, Taurasi said she is most excited to play against the Atlanta Dream’s first-time All-Star, Tiffany Hayes.
“I’m probably really excited to see Tiffany Hayes. She’s so exciting and so dynamic that I feel like the All-Star game is really going to suit her and I see her having a huge game tomorrow.”
Los Angeles Sparks forward, Candace Parker, is a four-time All-Star and was named the game’s MVP back in 2013. Parker said she is looking forward to seeing her teammate Chelsea Gray suiting up for her first All-Star appearance.
“It’s been a pleasure to watch her grow in this short amount of time, and I’m sure she’ll be coming here a lot, but I would just say it’s about having fun. This is about the fans, rewarding for all of us but it’s a fun experience.”
Minnesota Lynx center Sylvia Fowles is a five-time All-Star. When asked which first-timer she is looking forward to playing with the most on the West team, Fowles was surprised to be reminded that Storm forward, Breanna Stewart, will be making her first appearance.
“I don’t count Stewie. Stewie is one of those players where you just feel like she’s been around for a long time and then you look up and you’re like… you’re 22? What? You’re supposed to be older. She’s like the new me, where I was the young one coming up and now she’s in my place. I’m happy to get some dimes from her instead of her dropping dimes on us.”
New York Liberty Center Tina Charles said she is looking forward to playing with her Eastern Conference rival, Jonquel Jones.
“I’m looking forward to playing with Jonquel Jones. With this being her second year I think the way she has been able to turn the corner has been tremendous and I know it’s going inspire the next generation of WNBA players to find their niche at a young age.”
Jones, who is making her first All-Star appearance, said she is just trying to embrace the experience:
“You watch them [All-Star veterans] play in college, Tina Charles especially, they dominated at the college level. We watched them win gold medals with the Olympic team. Just to be here with them- I feel like a little kid in a candy store. I’m just so excited to be here. I’m trying to take advantage of every opportunity and learn a little bit from them if they allow me to. Tina is just so gracious and generous, it’s easy to open up to them and talk to them. I’m just excited. ”