SCOTTSDALE, Arizona – Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi didn’t consider retiring after a 16-year career before signing a two-year deal on Monday to stay in Arizona until she was 40.
Instead, one of the most decorated female players in WNBA history was resurrected by her game last summer at The Bubble in Bradenton, Florida, encouraging her to keep playing.
“It was one of those times in my life when it could have either broken me in many ways as a player or brought me forward and made me take this off-season as seriously as I took any other.” “she said Tuesday.” The bubble was big for me to prove to myself that I can still play at a high level and contribute to this team to win a championship, which we try in the next two or three. “Years.”
It took Taurasi about 10 bladder games to feel “normal” more than a year after surgery to fix a bulging disc in her back. In addition to recovering from this surgery, Taurasi had to deal with a persistent hamstring injury and tendinitis.
“It was just constant, trying to get a little better every day,” she said. “At that point it never seemed possible for me to just feel healthy. And it was unfortunate that there weren’t more games in the bubble.”
Around the middle of the 22-game schedule, Taurasi began to think, “Hey, this is what it looks like when I’m feeling healthy. Again, these are the things I can still do.”
Despite a renewed belief in herself, Taurasi left the bubble “with a really open mind, a certain mind” about her playful future as her contract expired.
“I let my mind wander throughout the off-season,” she said. “But at the end of the day it kept coming back to Phoenix.”
Taurasi said two or three teams called their agent when the free agency started on Monday – a move Taurasi has “tremendous respect” for – but it was in vain.
“I think the position I was in and maybe people just thought we would stay no matter what,” said Taurasi. “At some point I was really like that? Nobody gives me the honor of trying to do something else? Eh, maybe you were right.”
The Mercury treated Taurasi as the number one target on their free agent board, she said.
They were the first team to reach out to them in the first hour of the free agency, and the two sides hopped on a Zoom call to talk about the deal.
Jim Pittman, general manager of Phoenix, and Sandy Brondello, coach, presented a plan for the team’s future and how Taurasi fits in with it. Part of that plan doesn’t necessarily include a roster revision, Taurasi said. It focused more on a concerted effort on how to win another championship that would be Taurasi’s fourth WNBA title.
“That’s how I wanted to hear it,” said Taurasi. “I want to go back there. I like to play basketball. I enjoy it, but it’s always a little better when you win and you have that vision and a burning desire that you do it to win one.” Championship.
“They gave me that and I obviously didn’t want to go anywhere else. This is where I want to end my career.”
This effort, even if it may not have been necessary, met with a response from Taurasi.
“That was a moment when you thought about it, well, you didn’t have to do that because this is where I want to be,” she said. “But they went out of their way to treat me like I was an unreserved free agent and I can go where I wanted to. And that told me they were very serious.
“And just to think of the time I had in Phoenix and the memories we made, I think of the program we created, the culture. We have done a lot in 17 years, and I don’t think we’re done. “
Or as Taurasi put it briefly: “I’m in a serious relationship here.”