August 3, 2023 is a day that will go down in WNBA history forever as 41 year-old legend Diana Tuarasi became the first player to reach 10,000 career points. The Phoenix Mercury star became the greatest scorer in the WNBA while dropping 42 points in front of her home crowd and bringing her career total to 10,024 points. Taurasi has become the all-time leading scorer in her 19 WNBA seasons by more than 2,500 points. Taurasi owns a plethora of records including made field goals (3,145), 3-pointers (1,347), and free throws (2,387). Taurasi’s success was immediate upon entering the league as the first overall pick in the 2004 draft, and becoming the 2004 WNBA Rookie of the Year. Taurasi has spent her whole career with the Mercury and has led them to three WNBA championships in 2007, 2009, and 2014. The superstar guard was named the WNBA Most Valuable Player in 2009 and WNBA finals MVP in 2009 and 2014. She has also been selected to ten WNBA All-Star teams and fourteen All WNBA teams. Her success extends beyond the WNBA to the international realm as she and Sue Bird are the only players with five Olympic Gold medals. Tuarasi’s international domination has also won her three FIBA world cups.
Taurasi’s WNBA and national team success was nothing new; Taurasi had been breaking records and winning prizes since she was a teenager. She attended Don Antonio Lugo High School in Chino California where she received the 2000 Cheryl Miller Award, 2000 Naismith and Parade Magazine Player of the year, and 1999 and 2000 Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year. Taurasi graduated in 2000 with 3,047 points, fourth in state history and was named as a WBCA All-American and earned MVP in the All American game.
She then went on to play for Geno Aureimma at UCONN in 2000. She became UCONN'S first two-time national player of the year in 2004 and led her team to three consecutive national championships. The Huskies boasted an impressive 139-8 record with Taurasi who also gained recognition as an All American three times and was a two-time Associated Press First Team All-America choice. She also became the first player in UConn history to total 2,000 points, 600 assists, and 600 rebounds. Taurasi was one of the greatest players in the history of the greatest women’s college program in history.
Her immense success is highlighted by the trust her coaches and teammates have in her by giving her the complete green light to shoot. Taurasi claims this privilege is the "best thing in the world because the green light doesn't come from just one person. It comes from a trust of a whole, and when you have that trust, it really is fun to play the game of basketball.” UCONN’s coach Auriemma spoke on Taurasi’s green light by adding, "You don't give the green light to anybody who's dumb, right? I don't care how good a shooter they are. If they're dumb, you don't give them the green light because they'll end up taking bad shots at the worst time and those are the ones they'll miss."
As the oldest player in the game, Taurasi, who is in her final WNBA season credits the longevity of her career to "obsession, addiction -- all the things you try to stay away from. All the things that keep pulling me back to the game of basketball. I've always said I've given my life to this game and I still love to play. I still love to prepare. I still love to compete. That's what keeps me coming back." Taurasi’s dedication to the game created an icon whose records will take years and generational talent to break. Her incredible career at UCONN, Phoenix, and the national team will be memorialized in future generations who have grown up wearing number 3.