Since 2004, Phoenix Mercury fans have been fortunate enough to watch as Diana Taurasi assembled her first-ballot Hall of Fame résumé. Today she added another legendary bullet point.
Taurasi passed Tina Thompson (7,488 points) as the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer with a layup late in the 2nd quarter against the Los Angeles Sparks in Los Angeles, doing in 13 seasons what it took Thompson 17 to accomplish. She finished the game with a team-high 19 points and now has 7,494 points for her career. This milestone comes less than three weeks after she passed Katie Smith as the WNBA’s all-time leader for made 3-pointers in a career, doing it by burying a WNBA-record-tying eight treys in the contest.
At 35 years old, Taurasi is well aware she is on the backside of her career, but what an illustrious career it has been. On top of all the individual accolades (Rookie of the Year, 2009 MVP, two-time Finals MVP, 11 All-WNBA Teams with a record nine First Team selections), she has won three NCAA titles, three WNBA championships, six EuroLeague titles, two World Championships, and four Olympic gold medals.
The miles are beginning to show, however. Despite an incredible performance in the 2016 Olympics, Taurasi is not the same player she once was. She doesn’t drive to the basket the way she used to, settling for 3-pointers in the offense over the more physically demanding attacking drives. But she seems content with easing into a Tim Duncan-like role for this Mercury team, relinquishing the mantle of best player to an ascendant Brittney Griner now that a worthy heir has emerged.
But that is not to say Taurasi is about to walk off into the sunset. She is under contract with the Mercury until 2020 and can still make a significant impact on the court, as her 37 points on June 1 showed. Ever about winning, she would love nothing more than to help the Mercury join the old Houston Comets as the only WNBA franchises to win four championships. And, even though she’d never admit it publicly, she would also probably derive great satisfaction from becoming the first WNBA player to surpass 10,000 points in a career — even if getting there would mean playing into her 40s.
So Taurasi isn’t finished yet even after establishing herself as the greatest scorer in WNBA history. There are still games to play, records to smash, and titles to win. She trails Tamika Catchings by a mere 146 points for the WNBA record for most points scored in the postseason, with that record in jeopardy of falling within the next two seasons, and with 933 made 3-pointers, she is well on her way to becoming the first WNBA player with 1,000 made 3-pointers in a career. Plus, winning gold during the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo would make her the first athlete — male or female — to claim five gold medals in basketball.
But there will come a day when she hangs up the sneakers for good and walks off the court in a Mercury jersey for the final time. That’s why days such as today are special; they serve to remind us all of what we’ve been so privileged to witness for all these years. Taurasi is one of the faces on the Mount Rushmore of Phoenix sports, and with all due respect to Ann Meyers-Drysdale, Carol Blazejowski, Nancy Lieberman-Cline, Cheryl Miller, Lynette Woodard, Teresa Edwards, Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie, Katie Smith, Lauren Jackson, Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings, and a host of other worthy contenders, she further cemented her place as the G.O.A.T. of women’s basketball with this most recent accomplishment.