Diana Lorena Taurasi (born June 11, 1982) is an American professional basketball player for the Phoenix Mercury of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). She was drafted by Phoenix first overall in the 2004 WNBA draft. Since the day she was drafted, Taurasi has won three WNBA championships (2007, 2009, 2014), one WNBA Most Valuable Player Award (2009), two WNBA Finals MVP Awards (2009, 2014), four Olympic gold medals, (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016), five scoring titles (2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011), WNBA Rookie of the Year Award (2004), and three FIBA World Cups (2010, 2014, 2018). She is one of only 11 women to attain all four accolades. She has also been selected to nine WNBA All-Star teams and ten All-WNBA teams. In 2011, she was voted by fans as one of the WNBA's Top 15 Players of All Time. On June 18, 2017, Taurasi became the WNBA all-time leading scorer.
|No. 3 – Phoenix Mercury|
|Born||June 11, 1982|
|Listed height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Listed weight||163 lb (74 kg)|
|High school||Don Antonio Lugo|
|WNBA draft||2004 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1st overall|
|Selected by the Phoenix Mercury|
|2011–2012||Galatasaray Medical Park|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Stats at WNBA.com|
Taurasi is considered one of the greatest women to play basketball. Her penchant for scoring in crucial situations has earned her the nickname "White Mamba", first coined by Kobe Bryant. Current Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton also labelled her as the Michael Jordan of the WNBA.
Taurasi grew up in Chino, California, where she attended and played basketball at Don Antonio Lugo High School. Taurasi's father, Mario, was born in Italy, and raised in Argentina. He was a professional soccer player in Italy, and played for several years as a goalkeeper. Diana Taurasi's mother, Liliana, is Argentinian. Mario and Liliana Taurasi emigrated from Argentina to the United States before Diana was born. She has an older sister named Jessika.
High school careerEdit
Taurasi attended Don Antonio Lugo High School, where she was the recipient of the 2000 Cheryl Miller Award, presented by the Los Angeles Times to the best player in Southern California. She was also named the 2000 Naismith and Parade Magazine National High School Player of the Year, and the 1999 and 2000 Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year. Taurasi finished her prep career ranked fourth in state history with 3,047 points. Taurasi was named a WBCA All-American. She participated in the 2000 WBCA High School All-America Game, where she scored twelve points, and earned MVP honors.
Following a highly decorated high school career, Taurasi enrolled at the University of Connecticut (UConn) and began playing for the women's basketball team during the 2000–2001 season. Taking the court primarily at point guard and shooting guard, she led the team to three consecutive NCAA championships. Leading up to the final championship, her coach, Geno Auriemma, would declare his likelihood of winning with the claim, "We have Diana, and you don't."
Taurasi also received many personal accolades at UConn including the 2003 and 2004 Naismith College Player of the Year awards, the 2003 Wade Trophy, and the 2003 Associated Press Player of the Year award. In addition to the national recognition she received during her time at UConn, Taurasi was held in legendary status by many Connecticut fans. For example, state senator Thomas Gaffey nominated her to join Prudence Crandall as the state's heroine. She averaged 15.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game in her collegiate career. During her time at UConn, her team compiled a record of 139 wins and 8 losses. Diana was a member of the inaugural class (2006) of inductees to the University of Connecticut women's basketball "Huskies of Honor" recognition program.
Following her collegiate career, Taurasi was selected first overall in the 2004 WNBA Draft by the Phoenix Mercury, a team that went 8–26 in the 2003 season. At times in her career, she had to play forward because there were shorter players in the starting five on her team. However, she mainly plays guard. Also, right before the 2004 season, the Mercury acquired all-star Penny Taylor in a dispersal draft, to strengthen their roster.
In her WNBA debut, Taurasi netted 22 points in a 72–66 Mercury loss to the Sacramento Monarchs. For the season, the rookie averaged 17.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. Although the Mercury did not qualify for the playoffs, Taurasi was named to the Western Conference All Star team and won the WNBA Rookie of the Year Award.
In 2005, Taurasi averaged 16.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game while battling an ankle injury. She was an All Star for the second straight year, but the Mercury faded down the stretch and again missed the playoffs.
Former NBA coach Paul Westhead became the Mercury's head coach prior to the 2006 season and brought his up-tempo style to Phoenix. Their roster was further bolstered by the addition of rookie Cappie Pondexter, the #2 overall selection in the 2006 WNBA Draft, forming a Big 3 of Taurasi, Pondexter and Taylor.
2006 would be an historic season for Taurasi as she flourished under Westhead's system, leading the league in scoring and earning a third straight trip to the All Star Game. She broke Katie Smith's league records for points in a season (741 during the 2006 season). In 2006, Taurasi averaged a WNBA record 25.3 points, 4.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game, including a career-high 47 points in a triple overtime regular season victory against the Houston Comets (a then league record). During that game she made a WNBA record 8 three-pointers (which has since been tied by Riquna Williams). Taurasi also set a WNBA record with 121 three-pointers made in a single season. The Mercury finished 18–16, but after losing a tie-breaker with Houston and Seattle, missed the playoffs.
In 2007, Taurasi finally reached the WNBA playoffs. In the first round, the Mercury eliminated the Seattle Storm two games to none. Next, they swept the San Antonio Silver Stars in a hard-fought two game series and Taurasi advanced to her first WNBA Finals, against the defending champion Detroit Shock. Taurasi, Pondexter and Taylor led the Mercury to their first WNBA title. With this victory Taurasi became the seventh player ever to win an NCAA title, a WNBA title, and an Olympic gold medal. Others who had achieved this were Ruth Riley, Sheryl Swoopes, Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, and fellow Huskies Swin Cash, Kara Wolters, and Sue Bird, with further players added to the list in following years.
In the 2009 season, Taurasi was named the WNBA MVP and later led the Phoenix Mercury to its second WNBA championship in three years by beating the Indiana Fever, three games to two, as Taurasi was named the WNBA Finals MVP. Taurasi is one of only two players (the other being Cynthia Cooper-Dyke), to win the season scoring title, the season MVP award, a WNBA Championship and the finals MVP in the same season.
Entering the 2014 season, Taurasi became 2nd ranked in career points per game, 5th in career points and 9th in career assists. In the 2014 season, with a supporting cast of all-star power forward Candice Dupree (who was traded to the Mercury in 2010), rising star Brittney Griner (who was drafted 1st overall in the 2013 WNBA Draft) and the arrival of new head coach Sandy Brondello, the Phoenix Mercury finished 29–5, setting the record for most wins in a regular season, earning the top seed in the western conference. In the playoffs they advanced all the way to the WNBA Finals where they would sweep the Chicago Sky earning Taurasi her 3rd championship. Taurasi also won the WNBA Finals MVP for the second time in her career.
On February 3, 2015, Taurasi announced that she would sit out the 2015 WNBA season at the request of her Russian Premier League team, UMMC Ekaterinburg. The team offered to pay Taurasi more than her WNBA salary to skip the 2015 WNBA season. For the 2014 WNBA season, Taurasi made just under the league maximum of $107,000. But she makes 14 times that – approximately $1.5 million – playing overseas.
Taurasi returned to the Mercury for the 2016 WNBA season. Taurasi averaged 17.8 ppg helping the Mercury to another playoff berth with a 16–18 record. With the WNBA's new playoff format in effect, the Mercury were the number 8 seed in the league, facing the Indiana Fever in the first round. The Mercury advanced to the second round beating the Fever in the first round elimination game as Taurasi scored 20 points. During that game, Taurasi made her 113th playoff career three-pointer, becoming the all-time WNBA leader in playoff career three-pointers made (passing Becky Hammon). In the second round elimination game, the Mercury beat the New York Liberty advancing to the semifinals (the last round before the WNBA finals) with Taurasi scoring a game-high 30 points in the win. In the semi-finals, the Mercury would face the championship defending Minnesota Lynx in the best-of-5 series and would be swept 3 games to 0.
In May 2017, Taurasi signed a multi-year contract extension with the Mercury. Later that month, Taurasi became the first player in league history reach 7,000 points, 1,500 rebounds and 1,500 assists following an 85–62 victory over the Indiana Fever. On June 18, 2017, Taurasi became the WNBA's all-time leading scorer, passing Tina Thompson's old record. Taurasi would be selected into the 2017 WNBA All-Star Game, making it her eighth career all-star game appearance. The Mercury would finish with an 18–16 record as the fifth seed in the league. In the first round elimination game, Taurasi 14 points in a 79–69 win over the Seattle Storm. In the second round elimination game, the Mercury defeated the Connecticut Sun 88–83, Taurasi scored 23 points in the win. The Mercury advanced past the second round for the second season in a row, but were eliminated by the Los Angeles Sparks in a 3-game sweep.
In the 2018 season-opener on May 18, 2018 against the Dallas Wings, Taurasi became the first player in WNBA history to make 1,000 3-pointers. On June 5, 2018, Taurasi became the first player in WNBA history to score 8,000 points in an 80–74 victory against the Liberty. On July 8, 2018, Taurasi became the league's all-time leader in field goals made in an 84–77 victory against the Connecticut Sun, surpassing Tina Thompson. Taurasi would also earn her ninth career all-star appearance after being voted into the 2018 WNBA All-Star Game. On August 1, 2018, Taurasi scored a season-high 37 points in a 104–93 victory against the Las Vegas Aces. The Mercury finished off the season 20–14 with the number 5 seed in the league. In the first round elimination game, the Mercury defeated the Dallas Wings 101–83. Taurasi scored 26 points in the win. In the second round elimination game, the Mercury defeated the Connecticut Sun 96–86, advancing to the semi-finals for the third year in a row, they would face off against the Seattle Storm. Down 2–0, the Mercury came back to tie up the series 2–2. In game 5, the Mercury lost 94–84, ending their season.
Taurasi started the 2019 WNBA season on the injured list after undergoing back surgery.
Taurasi's international career began in 2005 when she played for Dynamo Moscow, a team had been dominant in the Russian league until late 90s, and even 2005 runner-up, but was slowly declining at that time. The Euroleague tournament ended in the quarter-finals, where Dynamo was eliminated by former champions CSKA Samara. In 2006 Taurasi was recruited to play for the Russian team Spartak Moscow. The team had finished in eleventh place in the Russian league when Shabtai von Kalmanovich decided to buy the team. Kalmanovich was a successful business man with various interests, including women's basketball. He had stopped in to see a local women's basketball team in Yekaterinburg, and "literally fell in love with the point guard, Anna Arkhipova". He ended up buying that team, but later decided to buy the Spartak Moscow Region team, and turn it into a top team. He arranged to add a number of top-notch players, who had earned seven Olympic medals between them. Many of the players were European, but the team also included Australian born Lauren Jackson and USA born Sue Bird and Taurasi.
The team would go on to win four consecutive Euroleague championships from 2007 to 2010, and Taurasi was named Final Four MVP in 2009 and 2010.
In 2010 Taurasi played for Turkish champion Fenerbahçe, helping the team to repeat winning the national league. On December 24, 2010, Taurasi's lawyers revealed that she had tested positive for a mild stimulant; according to her lawyer, Howard Jacobs, the positive test came from an "A" sample, and that testing had been requested on a second "B" sample. Jacobs also was quick to point out that the substance Taurasi tested positive for "was not a steroid or recreational drug." Until the "B" sample could be tested, Taurasi was provisionally suspended from the Turkish league. In a statement, the Turkish basketball association revealed that the WADA-list banned substance was modafinil. On February 16, 2011, Diana Taurasi was finally cleared of doping allegations. ABC News indicated Taurasi was absolved from all doping allegations and could rejoin her Istanbul team following the retraction of the Turkish laboratory on its earlier finding on the former UConn star's urine samples.
In the 2011–2012 season Taurasi played for Galatasaray, the other major team from Istanbul and Fenerbahçe's long time rival; Taurasi joined WNBA stars Epiphanny Prince, Sylvia Fowles, Tina Charles and Ticha Penicheiro. The team ended winning the Turkish Cup but lost to Fenerbahçe in the League Final and was eliminated in the Final Eight quarter-final round of the 2011–12 EuroLeague again losing a decisive match to Fenerbahçe.
On May 16, 2012 Taurasi signed a contract with UMMC, joining fellow WNBA star Candace Parker. The team dominated national and international competitions, winning the 2012–13 EuroLeague (second time for the club), Russian Championship and Russian Cup.
Season 2013–2014 saw the UMMC team repeating in winning Russian Championship and Cup, but falling short in Eurolegue competition, losing in the semifinal game against eventual champion Galatasaray; these occurrences repeated in 2014–2015 season with UMMC losing in the Euroleague final against Czech's USK Praha, in a game where Taurasi had to sit out with a broken hand.
The injury and the consequent loss in the Euroleague final had a big role in the decision of UMMC club to offer Taurasi a deal to skip her 2015 WNBA season to rest. Taurasi chose to accept the deal, giving up the WNBA title defense and returning to Phoenix Mercury only in 2016; her decision spread a big debate in the USA about salary policies in women's professional sports compared to Europe and China.
In 2015–2016 Taurasi was back to UMMC, leading the team to its third (and her sixth personal) Euroleague title, while also earning MVP honors.
In 2016–2017 Taurasi would once again return to UMMC, helping the team to its eleventh league championship. Though expected to play through the end of the 2017–2018 season with the team, Taurasi announced her retirement from Russian competition in December 2017.
Taurasi was a member of the USA Women's U18 team which won the gold medal at the FIBA Americas Championship in Mar Del Plata, Argentina. The event was held in July 2000, when the USA team defeated Cuba to win the championship. In the closest match of the tournament, the semifinal game against Brazil, Taurasi connected on seven of her eleven three-point attempts and ended the game with 26 points. She averaged 12.6 points per game and led the team with assists with 5.46 per game.
On May 12, 2004, Taurasi was selected to represent the United States with the US Women's National Basketball team at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. She helped the United States capture the gold medal, defeating Australia in the championship game. Taurasi represented the United States as a member of the US Women's National Basketball team at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, where she started all eight games and helped lead the USA team to win the gold medal. Taurasi was the second leading scorer on the USA Women's National Basketball team at the 2006 FIBA World Championship held in São Paulo, Brazil. The USA team earned the bronze medal.
Taurasi has also earned a bronze medal as a member of the 2001 USA Junior World Championship team, and a gold medal as a member of the 2000 USA Basketball Women's Junior World Championship Qualifying team.
Taurasi was invited to the USA Basketball Women's National Team training camp in the fall of 2009. The team selected to play for the 2010 FIBA World Championship and the 2012 Olympics is usually chosen from these participants. At the conclusion of the training camp, the team will travel to Ekaterinburg, Russia, where they compete in the 2009 UMMC Ekaterinburg International Invitational.
Taurasi was named as one of the National team members to represent the USA Basketball team in the WNBA versus USA Basketball. This game replaces the normal WNBA All-Star game with WNBA All-Stars versus USA Basketball, as part of the preparation for the FIBA World Championship for Women to be held in the Czech Republic during September and October 2010. Taurasi was selected to be a member of the National team representing the US at the World Championships held in September and October 2010. The team was coached by Geno Auriemma. Because many team members were still playing in the WNBA until just prior to the event, the team had only one day of practice with the entire team before leaving for Ostrava and Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic. Even with limited practice, the team managed to win its first games against Greece by 26 points. The team continued to dominate with victory margins exceeding 20 points in the first five games. Several players shared scoring honors, with Swin Cash, Angel McCoughtry, Maya Moore, Taurasi, Lindsay Whalen, and Sylvia Fowles all ending as high scorer in the first few games. The sixth game was against undefeated Australia — the USA jumped out to a 24-point lead and the USA prevailed 83–75. The USA won its next two games by over 30 points, before facing the host team, the Czech Republic, in the championship game. The USA team had a five-point lead at halftime, which the Czech team cut to three points, but never got closer. Team USA went on to win the championship and gold medal. Taurasi led the team in scoring with 12.0 points per game and was second on the team with 23 assists.
Taurasi was one of 21 finalists for the US Women's Olympic Basketball Team Roster. The twenty professional women's basketball players, plus collegiate player (Brittney Griner), were selected by the USA Basketball Women's National Team Player Selection Committee to compete for the final roster which represented the US at the 2012 Olympics in London. Taurasi would win her third gold medal as USA beat Australia 92–65.
Taurasi played for Team USA in the 2016 Olympics in Rio, earning her fourth gold medal while helping USA beat Spain 101–72 in the final gold medal game.
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| style="text-align:left;"| UMMC Ekaterinburg
| 15 || 15 || 23.6 || .488 || .455 || .865 || 1.9 || 2.8 || 0.8 || 0.1 || 1.1 || 17.9
| style="text-align:left;"| Career
| 172 || 172 || 30.0 || .466 || .455 || .826 || 4.5 || 3.9 || 1.0 || 0.2 || 2.4 || 18.2
- Connecticut Huskies women's basketball
- 2003–04 Connecticut Huskies women's basketball team
- List of Connecticut women's basketball players with 1000 points
- List of Connecticut Huskies women's basketball players with 500 assists
- List of WNBA career scoring leaders
- List of WNBA career assists leaders
- List of Women's National Basketball Association season scoring leaders
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- Kelli Anderson, "The Trials Of Diana Taurasi," Sports Illustrated, September 12, 2011.