October 17, 2021
Diana Taurasi breaks Phoenix Mercury locker room door after Game 4 loss
Tension runs high after the conclusion of WNBA Finals
CHICAGO — The frustration of losing in the WNBA Finals – the first of her career — appears to have gotten to Diana Taurasi.
Taurasi and all players of the Phoenix Mercury declined to talk to media after losing Game 4 of the WNBA Finals 80-74 to the Chicago Sky, and Taurasi in particular took out that frustration on the door into the visiting locker room, per an eyewitness.
The door was severely cracked through the middle, which an eyewitness said came from Taurasi slamming the door multiple times. Neither the WNBA nor the Phoenix Mercury commented by time of publication.
It looked, for most of the game, like the Mercury were going to force the series to head back to Phoenix for Game 5. But after a Brittney Griner jumper gave the Mercury a 72-65 lead with 4:42 to go in Game 4, Phoenix didn’t make another basket and only scored two points the rest of the game, when Taurasi made 2-of-3 free throws.
During that shooting slump, The Sky took over the game, going on a 15-2 run to capture the game and the WNBA championship.
It appeared to be a particularly exasperating day, at times, for Taurasi, who picked up a technical foul early in the first quarter. After missing a layup on a drive where she received contact but did not get a foul called against her defender, Taurasi clapped aggressively in the face of referee Tiara Cruse — the same official Taurasi pushed over in Game 2 in an attempt to get Cruse off of Sophie Cunningham. Taurasi did not get any foul for that push back on Wednesday, but later was fined $2,500 for “inappropriate contact with an official,” per the league.
“I didn’t even know if was the ref though,” Taurasi said before Friday’s game when speaking to a small assembly of media that included The Next about the incident from Game 2. “I just saw legs on top of Sophie and I tried to get everyone off Sophie.”
In addition to the early technical foul during Sunday’s Game 4, Taurasi was whistled for three personal fouls in the first half: a defensive foul on the offensive end with 3:13 left in the first half, an offensive foul with 8:41 left in the second quarter and a charging foul with 3:51 left in the second quarter. She was subbed out and remained out of the game for the remaining of the first half after the third foul.
Taurasi didn’t commit another foul until there were 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter, a final attempt at staving off the season-ending loss. She would finish the game with 16 points on 4-for-16 shooting from the field, 3-for-9 shooting from 3-point range and 5-for-6 from the free-throw line.
It’s the first time in her WNBA career that Taurasi has lost in the WNBA Finals, after winning thrice before (2007, 2009, 2014). In talking with media on Saturday, Taurasi couldn’t specifically recall when she last lost in a championship, but said it likely last occurred “in high school.”
Taurasi was gracious in the moments immediately after the loss, fighting through the large crowds on the court to give congratulations to multiple players on the Sky. But it’s clear, in the hour between the final buzzer ending the game at 4:12 p.m. Central time and the Mercury’s bus leaving at 5:12 p.m. Central for the chartered flight back to Phoenix, that the missed chance at a fourth championship was not taken lightly.