Three-time WNBA Champion, nine-time WNBA All-Star, two-time WNBA Finals MVP and 2009 WNBA MVP Diana Taurasi today signed a multi-year contract with the Phoenix Mercury, the team has announced.
“WNBA players are more empowered and in control of their careers than ever before, and it is an incredibly important statement that Diana Taurasi has chosen to re-sign with the Mercury once again,” said Mercury General Manager Jim Pitman. “Diana has given her entire career to our organization and community, and we don’t take for granted her unrivaled impact on basketball in the Valley. Her commitment to getting back on the court last year, and the level of play we saw from her in the Wubble, make us confident she has more All-WNBA days ahead of her.”
“As I’ve said before, as long as Diana wants to play in the WNBA, we want her in a Mercury uniform. She is the heart of our franchise, the first face on our Mount Rushmore, the best winner and competitor in the women’s game. The trajectory of our organization changed the day we drafted her 17 years ago, and we are excited she will be here into the future.”
– GM Jim Pitman
COMEBACK SEASON: Despite undergoing back surgery that kept her out of all but six games in 2019, the 38-year-old Taurasi returned last season to lead the Mercury to the league’s fifth-best record despite an injury-depleted roster. Taurasi led the team in scoring and assists, averaging 18.7 points, fifth-most in the WNBA, and 4.5 assists, eighth-most. In 19 games played, she scored 20 or more eight times, including a season-high 34 points while wearing Kobe Bryant’s No. 8 jersey on Aug. 23, in honor of what would have been the legend’s 42nd birthday. For the 10th time in her career, she led the league in three-pointers made (61), but didn’t live outside either, leading all WNBA guards in free-throw attempts per game. She averaged 25.5 points in the playoffs.
WINNER: Taurasi is a three-time WNBA Champion (2007, 2009, 2014), a three-time NCAA Champion while at UCONN (2002, 2003, 2004), a four-time Olympic Gold Medalist with Team USA (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016), and a six-time EuroLeague champion while overseas (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2016). She is one of just five players in Olympic basketball history (mens or womens) to win four gold medals (Teresa Edwards, Lisa Leslie, Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings) and could go for her fifth, along with Bird, in 2021. Taurasi has led the Mercury to the three best regular seasons in franchise history, including a WNBA-record 29-win season in 2014.
One of the greatest winners in basketball history, Taurasi owns a career record of 14-2 in playoff series-deciding games (Game 3 of a best-of-three series, Game 5 of a best-of-five series, and single-elimination games) in the WNBA playoffs. She carries a 20-7 (.741) career record in playoff elimination games, including an 8-2 mark on the road, and is 51-8 (.864) overall in her basketball career in elimination games (includes NCAA Tournament, Olympics, WNBA Playoffs).
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION: Taurasi has been a WNBA All-Star all nine times possible in her career (2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018; no All-Star Game held in 2004, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2016, 2020; Taurasi did not play 2015 season and was injured during 2019 season). She has won more Finals MVP Awards (2009, 2014) than regular season MVP awards (2009), just like her idol, the late Kobe Bryant. The Mercury’s all-time franchise leader in 16 categories, Taurasi has been voted to the All-WNBA First Team a league-record 10 times, while her four Second Team nods give her the WNBA record of 14 appearances on an All-WNBA Team. After being named to the WNBA All-Decade Team Honorable Mention list in 2006, Taurasi was recognized as one of the 15 greatest players in WNBA history during the league’s 15th anniversary celebration in 2011 and again in 2016 when she was named one of the 20 greatest players in league history during the WNBA’s 20th season celebration. She has been honored as the USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year an unprecedented four times, and was the 2004 WNBA Rookie of the Year after being selected No. 1 overall by Phoenix in the draft.
PURE SCORER AND SHOOTER: The greatest individual scorer in the history of the women’s game, Taurasi is the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer in both regular season (8,931 points) and postseason (1,279 points) play, and sits atop the league’s all-time three-point field goals charts in both the regular season (1,164 – only player to ever reach 1,000) and playoffs (176). A WNBA-record five-time league scoring champion (2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011), Taurasi has been the fastest player in league history to reach 4,000, 5,000, 6,000 and 7,000 career—and, the only player to reach 8,000 points. She will open the 2021 season just 69 points shy of 9,000.
Taurasi owns the most 20-point games in league history (228), the most 30-point efforts (48), the single-season record for scoring average (25.3 points in 2006) and total points (860, 2006). She’s the only player in WNBA history to score 800 points in a season more than once (860 in 2006, 820 in 2008), and became just the fourth player in WNBA and NBA history to reach 1,000 career three-pointers in 400 games or less (did so in her 399th-career game), joining Steph Curry (396 games), Klay Thompson (372 games) and Damian Lillard (385 games) in 2018.
STATS: Taurasi is one of the best all-around guards in the history of the game, ranking fourth on the league’s all-time assists list (1,953), the only player to rank in the top-five in scoring and assists all-time. In 2013, Taurasi became the first player in WNBA history to finish in the top-two in scoring and assists in the same season, something only James Harden (2016-17), Nate Archibald (1972), Oscar Robertson (1963, 1966) and Bob Cousy (1953) have accomplished on the NBA side. After leading the league in assists per game in 2015 (5.6), she became the only player in WNBA history to have led the league in scoring and assists for a season in a career; LeBron James, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Nate Archibald, Wilt Chamberlin and Jerry West are the only NBA players to ever do so.