Mercury’s Diana Taurasi first in WNBA to reach 10,000 points

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PHOENIX — Diana Taurasi made history yet again Thursday.

The Phoenix Mercury star became the first player in WNBA history to score 10,000 career points when she hit a 3-pointer off a screen from 28 feet with 8:23 left in the third quarter against the Atlanta Dream at the Footprint Center.

Taurasi, who entered the game 18 points shy of the mark, had 10 at halftime, then made a driving layup to open the third quarter before sinking consecutive 3-pointers to get her 10,000th point.

“Diana’s achievement stands as a testament to her skill, determination, and unwavering dedication to the game, which along with her competitive nature, has captivated fans with her incredible scoring ability, clutch performances, and unparalleled basketball IQ,” league commissioner Cathy Engelbert said. “We are honored to witness this milestone.”

Taurasi’s 10,000th point came on the 1,344th 3-point field goal of her WNBA career. The only other player in league history with at least 1,000 3-pointers is Sue Bird with 1,001.

Thursday night’s milestone was the latest accomplishment in Taurasi’s Hall of Fame career. Taurasi, who’s midway through her 19th WNBA season, became the league’s all-team leading scorer in 2017. She is also the first player in league history to reach 8,000 points, which she did in 2018, and 9,000 points, which she did in 2021. Tina Thompson is the next closest career scorer at 7,488 points.

“It’s a lifetime’s work,” Taurasi told ESPN in June. “Ten thousand is going to be something that hopefully means something to women’s basketball and it’s going to, I feel like, be even a bigger deal when someone breaks it.”

Taurasi, who started the season with 9,693 points, is averaging 16.1 points this season. After passing 9,000 points on June 27, 2021, Taurasi needed 60 games to reach 10,000, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. She needed 56 games to go from 8,000 points, which she hit on June 5, 2018, to 9,000.

Taurasi, 41, has worked hard to revamp her body, training and lifestyle to stay on the court as long as she has. Just this year, Taurasi started the season cutting back on practices to preserve her body for 2023’s 40-game WNBA season, the longest in the league’s history.

“It’s not easy,” Taurasi said. “It’s a lot of ups and downs. As the years go by, everything gets magnified. The pressure of playing, the pressure you put on yourself to be prepared.

“You could do everything right and you still may not get the result you want. You might eat right, sleep right, workout right, rehab right, treatment right, don’t walk on grass, you might do everything right and you still might not get what you want. And are you OK with that?”

Thursday’s feat added to the long list of Taurasi’s accomplishments, which has widely earned her the title of the “greatest of all time.” During the league’s 25th anniversary season in 2021, WNBA fans voted her as the GOAT.

“I think it’s funny because there’s just so many good players,” Taurasi said about the description. “And I’ve had an opportunity to not only watch them but play with them. There’s just so much that comes with that.

“But, hopefully I’ve helped the game in whatever way. I didn’t intend to play this long for any title, for any type of prestige or honor. I just played because I’m a kid that loves to play basketball. That’s it.”

And when asked to reflect on the milestone, Taurasi included every phase of her vast career.

“When I think of 10,000, I think of the points that haven’t counted,” she said. “The 13 years I played overseas for nine months [each year]; what I was able to do in high school at a little school that didn’t even have a basketball program; I think of UConn, where I went from not playing my freshman year to having to do what I had to do for our team to be successful; I think about the national team and all my different roles.

I think of my 19 years here, which, you know, 19 years with anyone can be heavy. A lot of good times, a lot of bad times.”

Reaching 10,000 points, however, was another example of Taurasi’s impact on the WNBA and the sport as a whole.

“I mean, wow,” said New York Liberty coach Sandy Brondello, who coached Taurasi with the Mercury from 2014 to 2021. “Two decades and doing what she has and maintaining that for so long at such a high level, it shows how special that she is. And we’ve got a lot of special athletes here.

“Maybe someone will break it. I don’t know. I think that’s going to be a tall task, but maybe someone will. But, it just shows Diana, she’s done so much, she’s grown this league and everyone’s trying to obviously chase her with everything that she’s done in the game of basketball.”

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