June 29, 2021
Diana Taurasi looking forward to playing with young players in Tokyo
Future Hall of Famer searching for fifth Olympic gold medal
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Diana Taurasi has suited up with some of basketball’s greatest players over her nearly two-decade tenure with the U.S. national team. So when the WNBA’s career scoring leader was named to her fifth Olympic team this week, it extended the bridge from the era of Sheryl Swoopes and Dawn Staley to the one of A’ja Wilson and Ariel Atkins.
“For the five Olympics I’ve been a part of, it’s a tough job for the committee,” Taurasi said of selecting the team. “We always joke around, that we could put two or three teams out that could compete in the Olympics and be OK, but it’s always a tough decision.
“There is a lot of young talent and a lot of veterans, a good mix of players that complement each other, so I’m excited to get out there and start focusing on things we can do to help us win.”
Taurasi mentioned specifically she is excited to play with Napheesa Collier, the 24-year-old Minnesota Lynx forward and fellow UConn alumna who is going to her first Olympics.
“I got to play with ‘Phee’ a little in the preparation for the last World Championships,” Taurasi said, “and she’s a player who I always enjoyed being around, so she’s probably someone who will be fun to be on the court with.”
In addition to Collier, making their Olympic debut are Wilson, Atkins, Jewell Loyd, Chelsea Gray, and Skylar Diggins-Smith, who plays with Taurasi on the Phoenix Mercury.
Taurasi returned to the court on Sunday with the Mercury for its game against the Los Angeles Sparks after missing four weeks with a sternum fracture, an injury she mentioned is scary because of its proximity to many vital organs.
“Getting back on the court helps your mind,” Taurasi added. “As long as I can help the team on the court, I might not be 100%, but if you can help your team by just being on the court, I would rather do that, and I am not too worried about how I look individually. I’d rather be out there on the court. Injuries are part of sports and something over the years that I have had to deal with. You just get better, and hopefully, one month from now, I won’t even remember it.”
The U.S. team tips off its first game of the Tokyo Olympics on July 27 against Nigeria.
“We have a lot of respect for all of the teams in the competition, we know how difficult it is,” Taurasi continued. “In the past, we have always had national teams that have presented a lot of difficulties for us, so we understand how important it is to take each day and bask in the preparation.”
Written by Scott Mammoser
Scott Mammoser has covered major international events for FIBA, the ISU and World Athletics. He has been to six Olympics and traveled to more than 70 countries.
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