October 10, 2021 

With Isla born and GOAT awarded, Diana Taurasi ready for Finals

Taurasi details the whirlwind 48 hours before Game 1 of the Finals began

PHOENIX — Before Game 1 of the WNBA Finals tipped off, Diana Taurasi was asked how much sleep she’s gotten in the last two nights.

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With a big smile, Taurasi answered, “Enough.”

It’s been a whirlwind weekend for the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer, who spoke to The Next and The Arizona Republic before Sunday’s noon tip-off. But it’s for the most joyous reasons.

Taurasi and her wife Penny Taylor, a former Mercury star and assistant coach, gave birth to their daughter Isla at 4:24 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 9.

“It’s unbelievable, Penny’s unbelievable and she’s the cutest, healthiest little girl,” Taurasi said. “We’re really happy.”

The name Isla —pronounced EYE-LAH, as if the (s) is silent, with Taurasi quipping, “I’m sure we’ll be getting a lot of IS-LAHs” —was actually the choice of her first child, 3-year-old son Leo.

“Leo made a friend at the park a couple of years ago and her name was Isla, and ever since then when we said we’re going to have a little baby sister, he’s dead-set on Isla. And that’s what it’s been,” Taurasi said. “This is big brother naming a little sister.”

Of course, earlier Friday night, Taurasi was making big plays to help the Phoenix Mercury defeat the Las Vegas Aces 87-84 to win their WNBA Semifinals series in its fifth and final game. Taurasi finished the night with 24 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter to help Phoenix come back from down 10 for the win.

Taurasi said that her agent helped have a private plane ready to go for whenever Game 5 ended in Las Vegas. After celebrating with her teammates, Taurasi was joined by the Mercury’s other Olympic gold medalists, Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins-Smith, for the flight back to Phoenix.

“It was nice to have two of my best friends on the plane on the way home,” Taurasi said.

Now, Taurasi gets a chance to compete in her fourth WNBA Finals in her illustrious career, and it’s worth pointing out that one of the sport’s all-time best competitors in big games has won every Finals series she’s been in. She and the Mercury have not made it to this grand stage very often, frequently hampered by the league’s playoff format, but once she gets here, she hasn’t lost.

She also received the honor of winning the WNBA’s GOAT (greatest of all-time) vote before Sunday’s game began and placed a WNBA onesie on top of the basketball she was given for the award. But ask Taurasi about her journey to this point and she doesn’t seem to want to look back at much.

“You know, I never really reflect anything. I just go day-by-day,” Taurasi said. “I really don’t care what’s happened in the past, it doesn’t affect my going forward. I really just try to do whatever’s in the moment and then I move on. I think that’s where, sometimes, people get a little backwards — where they either dwell too much on the future or dwell too much on the past. I just don’t do that.”

That said, she did sign a two-year deal contract in February, locking her in to the maximum salary amount for 2021 and 2022. Amidst speculation that she might retire with a fourth Finals championship, Taurasi reaffirmed that she’s intending to play again in 2022.

“The commitment I made is the commitment I made, for sure,” Taurasi said.

Her teammates seem to agree, with Shey Peddy recently telling The Next, “I can’t even picture a world with Diana not even playing basketball. I feel like she’s not going to retire and just keep playing, playing, playing.”

But right now, Taurasi and her Mercury teammates are focused on the chance to compete for a championship —and are ready to go. Exhaustion doesn’t matter when reaching the WNBA Finals.

“Everyone’s got a tough journey to get here,” Taurasi said. “We’re ready to compete and we know it’s going to be a long series. We’ll be here every game.”

Written by Alex Simon

SF Bay Area native, 2x grad (Elon, ASU), adjunct professor at ASU's Cronkite School, editor & journalist always looking to tell unique stories.

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