PHOENIX — Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi became the first WNBA player to reach 9,000 points on Sunday when she hit a layup while getting fouled with 8 minutes, 23 seconds left in the second quarter against the Los Angeles Sparks.
Taurasi, the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer, was already alone on top of the charts, but now she has a new milestone attached to the accomplishment. The next-closest player on the league’s all-time scoring list is Tina Thompson with 7,488 points. And Candice Dupree is the next-closest active player with 6,820.
To the 39-year-old Taurasi, hitting 9,000 in the 88-79 win was just another record among her many.
“Yeah, it’s cool,” she said. “It’s just another record that hopefully will be broken by someone who loves basketball, who dedicates her whole life.
“So, I think today was nice to do it in front of the home crowd of the first game when we have full capacity and to get it in a win. So, there was a lot of positives of getting it today. And, you know, it’s good.”
Taurasi, in her long-awaited return, came into Sunday’s game needing six points to reach the plateau. She had been sitting on 8,994 since May 21, as she missed the past five weeks with a fractured sternum. In the end, Taurasi filled the box score with 25 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists.
But in typical Taurasi fashion, she downplayed the record and quickly set her sights on another mark: 10,000 points.
“I guess I’ll be happy if I get to 10,000,” Taurasi deadpanned. “That’s when I’ll really be happy and celebrate; I might even throw myself a party. But 9,000, I just feel like there’s a lot of work to be done.”
Records come with being in the league for so long, Taurasi noted. She said they’re “markers of, I think, the time and effort that you put in it.”
Taurasi, who’s in her 17th season, said she is prouder of scoring all of her points with one team than she is for reaching the mark, which she never foresaw coming early in her career.
“I do think back on, I did it all with one team,” she said. “And that means a lot to me because there’s been so many players and coaches and management that’s come through Phoenix, and that’s really helped me.
“I would say I was lucky to be drafted here. I was lucky that they believed in me, that they really put everything behind me. So, yeah, that means probably more than, than all the points.”
Taurasi didn’t see herself as a scorer when she came into the league as the first overall pick in 2004 — and she still doesn’t to this day, despite the numbers proving otherwise.
“I wasn’t really that much of a scorer in college,” she said. “I think my senior year, I averaged, like, 15 points. Like that wasn’t, I think, the basis of my game and I think somewhat it still isn’t.
“So, to score that many points is just that I guess a tribute to the systems that I played.”
It has been a memorable month for Taurasi, even before the historic basket. Last week, she was named to the U.S. women’s basketball Olympic team for the fifth time.