2021 WNBA Finals – Why the Phoenix Mercury’s Diana Taurasi might be closer to retiring than you think

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PHOENIX — Diana Taurasi’s to-do listing isn’t full nonetheless.

Nearly, potentially. Close, probably. But not pretty nevertheless.

The Phoenix Mercury’s 39-12 months-aged star guard crossed just one quite important target off that record this summertime when she gained her history fifth gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. That pursuit experienced eaten her for the past handful of years.

Now that it can be no extended her central concentration, what is actually driving Taurasi? Yet another WNBA championship.

Taurasi’s spouse and previous teammate, Penny Taylor, explained to ESPN that Taurasi has used her 17 many years in the WNBA with a person, singular motivation: championships. The titles they received with each other in 2007, 2009 and 2014 usually are not ample for Taurasi, Taylor mentioned.

“She would not treatment about nearly anything other than [championships],” Taylor said. “Globe championships, the Olympics, WNBA, where ever she performed in Europe. I mean, that’s all there is to her. Not MVP, not scoring titles, or documents or anything at all.

“It can be only ever been about championships.”

Taurasi will go on that trek for a fourth title Sunday (3 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN App) from the Chicago Sky in Match 1 of the 2021 WNBA Finals, the Mercury’s very first visual appearance in the championship sequence because 2014. If the Mercury can get Taurasi her fourth ring, what could be following?

Most likely the finish. At minimum a single person close to Taurasi recommended she may well be prepared to stroll away from the video game.

2 Similar

Over the past few of several years, Taurasi experienced a small record of objectives, her sister, Jess Skillern, informed ESPN. 1st was that fifth Olympic gold medal.

Next was, very well, every thing else.

Atop that subsequent tier of objectives sat a WNBA championship, but several noticed the fifth-seeded Mercury’s run to the Finals coming. In the meantime, other things arrived into play. Skillern pointed to Taurasi’s age and expanding loved ones. Taylor gave delivery to their 2nd little one, a woman (more mature brother Leo is 3), on Saturday morning — just hours soon after Taurasi scored 14 fourth-quarter details to help Phoenix clinch its fifth journey to the WNBA Finals.

Taurasi has claimed she won’t believe that in the idea that age really should be a deterrent. Privately, nonetheless, Taurasi had begun dealing with her basketball mortality in new yrs, beginning when she had back surgery in 2019, Skillern claimed.

“She does not want to be 50 and not be equipped to stroll right straight up,” Skillern claimed in July. “She’s not heading to go away a damaged body on the court and she’s also not gonna go away the match not taking part in at her quite, quite finest. All those two factors are not likely to take place. So she’s really aware of there is certainly only a handful of much more summers left, and ‘I’m form of having it working day-by-day’ as considerably as her career.”

Nothing drives Diana Taurasi like successful championships. Following profitable a file fifth gold medal at the Olympics, she quipped, “See you in France,” which will host the 2024 Summer time Game titles. But like Sue Chook, might Taurasi be mulling retirement? David Becker/NBAE via Getty Photos

Taurasi has a single calendar year remaining on her WNBA contract. Skillern stated Taurasi’s wellbeing will far more than possible be the selecting component in no matter if she performs the ultimate yr of her contract — or beyond.

“She understands that retiring is in the around long term, but as prolonged as she’s nonetheless healthy and her overall body can handle it, and she’s nonetheless supplying good performances, she’s however playing at her likely, she’ll even now be there,” Skillern mentioned. “But when her entire body is telling her it is really time, she’ll make the wise selection.”

Taurasi was limited to 16 frequent-year online games as she dealt with a hip injury and a fractured sternum previously in the time, and is now working with a sprained ankle and foot personal injury she experienced two months just before the playoffs started out.

UConn mentor Geno Auriemma, who coached Taurasi in college or university and on Crew United states of america, reported he would not have been astonished if Taurasi’s injuries experienced led her to retire a few of yrs ago. Right after coaching Taurasi and Sue Hen, who turns 41 this thirty day period, on the nationwide group for eight several years, Auriemma listened to a good deal about how exhausting the rehab can be right before and during the period.

“It truly is a full-time job,” he said before the Olympics. “It wears on you and there is certainly as well many times, I consider, wherever they wake up and say, ‘I you should not want to do this any more. I nevertheless want to play but I will not want to do this anymore.'”

Taurasi has been a going for walks dichotomy this postseason.

She has been battered and bruised, in some cases to the place of limping and grimacing all over game titles, but she scored a playoff-vocation-higher 37 factors in Video game 2 of the semifinals — turning into the oldest player to record a 30-stage match (common-season or postseason) in league background — and strike clutch shot soon after clutch shot to drag the Mercury to the brink of one more championship.

Taurasi is still attempting to show she can do it, at a large stage, at this age, with all of her accidents. And which is how she has usually been.

“She continually desires to demonstrate herself,” Fowl informed ESPN.

This year has been a — possibly the — measuring stick for Taurasi, Skillern claimed, specifically considering the fact that the Olympics.

“I really don’t know what she’s thinking [about retirement]. I consider she’s still got a little bit a lot more, an additional 12 months or two in her,” Mercury coach Sandy Brondello explained to ESPN on Saturday. “But if she can do that, gain the Olympic gold medal and WNBA championships, it isn’t going to make a difference how old you are. That will be a substantial accomplishment.”

And it could assist make a decision Taurasi’s long term.