Diana Taurasi becomes first WNBA player to reach 10,000 points, scoring season-high 42

KABC logo
Friday, August 4, 2023
ABC7 Eyewitness News
ABC7 Eyewitness NewsStream Southern California's News Leader and Original Shows 24/7

PHOENIX (KABC) -- Diana Taurasi received a pass and in an instant, the shot was off her fingertips. It was a 3-pointer that splashed through the net, just like so many others.

Taurasi became the first WNBA player to reach 10,000 points, hitting the mark with 8:23 remaining in the third quarter against the Atlanta Dream on Thursday night. After the shot, the crowd in Phoenix erupted in cheers and Taurasi's teammates surrounded her in a circle, jumping up and down and celebrating.

"It was a cool night - you couldn't have wrote this any better for our fans and our city," Taurasi said. "I'm really thankful for my teammates because moments like this, it's everyone's moment. They really came with me and wanted me to do it tonight."

It was a vintage performance from Taurasi, who reminded everyone just how incredible she's been in her career with a season-high 42 points on 12 of 21 shooting, including 6 of 13 from 3-point range. She also hit all 12 of her free throws and the Mercury won 91-71.

The 41-year-old guard started the night needing 18 points to make it to 10,000 - and finished at 10,024.

"Tomorrow, I'll feel like I'm 50," Taurasi said grinning.

"On behalf of the WNBA and basketball fans worldwide, I want to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Diana on reaching the incredible milestone of 10,000 points as she continues to author new chapters is an illustrious WNBA career." WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement.

Diana Taurasi
Diana Taurasi celebrates after making her 10,000th career point, during the second half of a WNBA basketball game against the Atlanta Dream, Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023, in Phoenix.
AP Photo/Matt York

"Diana's achievement stands as a testament to her skill, determination, and unwavering dedication to the game, which along with her competitive nature, has captivated fans with her incredible scoring ability, clutch performances, and unparalleled basketball IQ. We are honored to witness this milestone."

Taurasi, who grew up in Chino, as a huge Lakers fan, earned the nickname "White Mamba" from the late Kobe Bryant as the two became good friends during their respective careers.

In 2020, days before what would have been the Lakers legend's 42nd birthday, Taurasi remembered Bryant as someone who pushed himself and everyone around him to be better.

Brittney Griner speaks for 1st time since release from Russian prison

Speaking to reporters for the first time since a nearly 10-month detainment in Russia on drug-related charges, the WNBA star had to take a moment to compose herself after being asked about her resiliency through the ordeal.

"There was just this constant fire that was burning," Taurasi told "Good Morning America." "I think he was trying to give people that hope that if you have a passion and you have this burning desire to be really good at (something), whatever it is, you can get there. That's what he gave me."

Bryant was killed alongside his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others when the helicopter in which they were traveling crashed on Jan. 26, 2020, in Calabasas. At the time, the group was en route to Bryant's Mamba Sports Academy for a game. Gianna Bryant dreamed of playing professional basketball like her father, and he was teaching her everything he knew, Taurasi recalled. Women's sports in general were something he always championed, she said.

Taurasi got her scoring started Thursday with a corner 3-pointer about two minutes into the game and then drove through the Atlanta defense for a layup a few minutes later. She had 10 points by halftime.

She was right back at it in the third quarter, hitting a layup on the Mercury's first possession. Then she hit back-to-back 3-pointers - the last a 28-footer over two defenders that got her to 10,000 points.

"I came here a little nervous, I didn't want to disappoint anyone, I just wanted to get it over with for a sense of relief," Taurasi said. "But at the same time, I was just focusing on trying to win a game."

It's been a tough year for the Mercury, who have a 7-19 record. But this was a moment the whole franchise could celebrate. In a postgame celebration, Taurasi was presented several gifts and listened to several tributes on the video board, including from NBA commissioner Adam Silver, tennis icon Billie Jean King, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley and Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.

Taurasi has been the cornerstone of the Phoenix franchise since she was drafted first in 2004 out of UConn. She not only is the career regular-season scoring leader, but also holds that mark in the playoffs. She's won three WNBA championships for the Mercury and was twice the MVP of the Finals.

Taurasi has averaged more than 19 points in her career, including a career-high 25.3 points in 2006. She is more than 2,500 points ahead of Tina Thompson, who is second on the scoring list with 7,488 points.

The Associated Press and ABC News contributed to this report.