2021 WNBA Finals – Phoenix Mercury’s Diana Taurasi hopes to continue playing until at least 2022 season

CHICAGO – Phoenix Mercury goalie Diana Taurasi said on Saturday she plans to at least complete her current contract, which runs until the 2022 season. But she will wait until the 2021 WNBA Finals are over and see how she feels. during this offseason before making the decision to retire.

“I hope I can fulfill my obligation. But you never know,” Taurasi told ESPN as Mercury prepares for Sunday’s Game 4 (3 p.m. ET, ESPN / ESPN App) at Wintrust Arena in Chicago. “The offseason is really long in the WNBA. Without playing abroad, that makes eight months really, really long: staying ready for the game physically and mentally.”

Taurasi and his wife, Penny Taylor, a former Mercury player, had their second child on October 9, as their daughter, Isla, joined their 3-year-old son, Leo. Taurasi is finishing his 17th season in the WNBA. She will be 40 in June.

“This is something that I’m going to talk about with Penny and my family and really do a little soul-searching to see if it’s something that I want to keep doing,” Taurasi said of playing next season. “I’m going to take my time. When the season is over, I will disappear as I usually do during the offseason and go back to see what we’re doing.”

Taurasi and the Mercury follow the Chicago Sky 2-1 in their best-of-five series. Phoenix lost 86-50 on Friday, the biggest loss in WNBA Finals history.

Taurasi, who was limited to 16 regular-season games while suffering from sternum, ankle and foot injuries, won at every level from the NCAA championships in UConn to a fifth Olympic gold medal in August. When asked the last time she played in a championship game or series and didn’t win, Taurasi said it was likely her last year in high school in California.

What makes her come back?

“It sounds very simple, but I still love to play,” Taurasi said. “And when I kind of go into that deep hole of not playing anymore, it’s forever. It’s a decision you don’t come back to when you’re 40. Maybe when you’re 25. once i’m done, i’m done.

“Thinking about being in the final right now, there’s always that desire to win and to be with these guys. So I still love to play, I still love to grind.”

When asked if the decision to continue would be based more on how she felt physically or mentally, Taurasi replied that it was both.

“Mental work is not an easy task. If you play all season you better be locked up,” said Taurasi, who has appeared in nine of Phoenix’s 10 playoff games. “Or the season becomes very long and very difficult. And then that obviously tires you out physically.

“So it’s, ‘Am I ready to work six months so I can play?’ You know, at that age you can’t just take four months off and think you’re going to come run with these kids and you’ll be fine. “

Taurasi said she enjoys being with this Mercury team. And it remains effective. In the regular season, she averaged 15.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.9 assists. She scored a career-high playoff-high 37 points in the semifinal series against Las Vegas, and her playoff averages are 17.8 PPG, 3.7 RPG and 3.0 APG.

Already the WNBA’s all-time top scorer with 9,174 points, Taurasi could shoot 10,000, although it would most likely take more than an extra season. She would need 826 points for this milestone; she has exceeded 800 points twice in her career: in 2006 and 2008. Her highest total in the past five years was 682 in 2018.

Taurasi said just after the Olympic gold medal game, “See in Paris”, alluding to the 2024 Summer Olympics. It might have been a joke, but Taurasi might not be. not finished with USA Basketball.

The FIBA ​​World Cup will take place from September 22 to October 1 of next year, and Taurasi’s veteran leadership may be needed at least once more.

Her longtime teammate in the United States, Sue Bird, has said she competed in her last Olympics after winning her fifth gold at the Tokyo Games, and it is not clear if she will compete in other international events.

“I think if you look to the future and I play in the WNBA [next season], that sort of leads to playing directly in the World Cup, ”Taurasi said. “And I’m going to talk to USA Basketball, see what they want to do. I mean, you know sometimes it’s time to move on, and I understand that too. “

Taurasi said she and Bird, who turned 41 on Saturday, communicated a lot about their future as a player. After Bird’s Seattle Storm lost in the second round of the playoffs to Phoenix, Bird admitted she would need time to think about returning for a 19th season next year.

“The conversation of playing and not playing, if you get into our thread, it’s been going on for two, three years,” Taurasi said. “As the season approaches, we both get into this competitive mode, and we always end up playing again. It’s because we still love it.”

Taurasi also said she didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about what her second act would be like every time she was done acting.

“Every time I try to think about it, that’s it: drink lots of coffee, go out with my family,” she said. “It’s really simple. I don’t know if I have the energy to reinvent a different role in life. It would require thinking about a lot of things that I don’t like to do.”

And Taurasi said that while she felt honored to have been recently chosen as the greatest WNBA player of all time by fans, she had too much respect for other players to claim the title. And none of that, she said, is why she plays.

“I kind of ignored everything to tell you the truth,” Taurasi said. “I don’t do social media, I don’t go down the rabbit hole of what people say and think about me. I’m really just worried about what my teammates, my coaches, my family, my friends think.

“When people talk about me well, it’s good. But that doesn’t make me happy. It doesn’t satisfy me. It’s the relationships I’ve built here in Phoenix and, obviously, my family. things that I ‘I poured myself out. Because at the end of the day, you know, all these other things are just hot air. “

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