- Diana Taurasi is returning to the Phoenix Mercury for her 17th WNBA season.
- Despite turning 38 during last season, the league legend said she never considered retiring.
- She kept “an open mind” about signing with another team, but she “always came back to Phoenix.”
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Diana Taurasi’s 17th year in the WNBA is a go.
And even though she’ll turn 39 this summer, the league’s all-time leading scorer never even considered stepping away from the hardwood during her free agency this offseason.
“You know, I didn’t think about retiring at all,” Taurasi said on a media call Tuesday. “To think about all the time I’ve had in Phoenix and the memories we’ve built, the program we’ve built, the culture — we’ve done a lot in 17 years, and I don’t think we’re done.”
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
No one would have blamed Taurasi if she chose to call it quits, especially considering the slew of injuries that have kept her off the court in recent years. She missed all but six games of the 2019 season after undergoing surgery on her back and later tweaking her hamstring. And when Taurasi returned, questions swirled about whether she would ever return to superstar status or even resemble her former self on the hardwood.
The 2020 WNBA season gave everyone an answer, and it was a resounding yes. In her 19 games in the Wubble, Taurasi averaged 18.7 points per game on 40.9% shooting from the floor and 36.5% shooting from beyond the arc for the Phoenix Mercury. She finished the regular season ranked top-10 in the league in points, assists, and free-throw percentage and once again led her Phoenix Mercury to the playoffs.
“The bubble was big for me in a way of just proving to myself that I could still play at a high level,” Taurasi said.
Diana Taurasi blocks Kayla McBride’s shot.
AP Photo/Chris O’Meara
But even though Taurasi knew she wanted to keep playing, she didn’t always know where the twilight of her career would play out. She’s spent her entire illustrious career with the Mercury, the team that drafted her first overall out of UConn in the 2004 WNBA Draft. The WNBA’s GOAT has seen nothing but success with the franchise, accruing 10 first-team All-WNBA nods, nine All-Star selections, five scoring titles, three championship rings, two Finals MVP honors, and an MVP award in the 16 seasons since.
Still, she left the Wubble “with an open mind.” But every time she “let my mind wander” about suiting up for a different team in a different city for the remainder of her WNBA playing days, “it always came back to Phoenix.”
Diana Taurasi (center) with her superstar Mercury teammates, Brittney Griner (left) and Skylar Diggins-Smith.
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
It soon became obvious that the WNBA’s all-time leader in made three-pointers intended to return to Phoenix, especially considering she refrained from taking calls with other teams. Even so, Taurasi said the Mercury made a valiant effort to keep her on their roster.
Leadership reached out to Taurasi as soon as the window to make contact with free agents opened, and they delivered a compelling pitch regarding where she fit into the future of the franchise. The superstar lauded her team’s commitment to recruiting her back even though she already had her mind made up.
“You didn’t have to do this because this is where I want to be,” Taurasi said. “But they made the effort to treat me like I was an unrestricted free agent, and I could go wherever I wanted. That told me they were very serious about it.”
Diana Taurasi (left) has words for a referee.
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
So on February 1 — the first day of free agency — Taurasi signed a multi-year supermax contract to remain with the franchise. She’ll make $221,450 in 2021 and $228,094 in 2022, according to Winsidr’s Rachel Galligan, and compete for some more hardware in the city where she’s already done it all.
“It means a lot to be in one place,” she said. “When they say my name, I want them to say the Phoenix Mercury and vice-versa. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
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