It would have made a lot of sense for Diana Taurasi to call it a career after the WNBA’s modified bubble season ended last summer.
The Phoenix Mercury star is 38 and one of the best players in the history of the league.
Yet, retiring never crossed her mind.
Taurasi signed a new two-year deal with the Mercury on Monday, which will keep her in the league for her 17th and 18th career seasons — something she largely credited to the weird season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
“It was one of those times in my life where it could have either broke me as a player in a lot of ways or it could have pushed me forward and forced myself to take this offseason as seriously as I’ve taken any other one,” Taurasi said Tuesday, via ESPN. “The bubble was big for me in a way of just proving to myself that I can still play at a high level and still contribute to this team to win a championship, which is what we’re trying to do in these next two, three years.”
WNBA Bubble brought Taurasi’s confidence back
Taurasi was still working to recover from a surgery to repair a bulging disc in her back when the team entered the bubble in Florida, along with minor hamstring and tendinitis issues. She said it took her about 10 games to really get back to her old self.
“It was just constant, every single day trying to get a little bit better,” she said, via ESPN. “It seemed like at that point that I was never going to be able to feel just healthy. And it was unfortunate that there weren’t more games in the bubble.”
Taurasi averaged 18.7 points and 4.5 assists in 19 games with Phoenix last season, her 16th in the league.
Though she said she had an open mind and let her “mind wander” during the offseason, she never thought about leaving Phoenix — even after a few teams reached out during free agency.
“I think the position that I was in and maybe, too, that people just thought we were gonna stay no matter what,” Taurasi said, via ESPN. “At one point I was like, really? Like, no one gives me any credit for maybe wanting to do something different? Eh, maybe they were right.”
The thing that pushed her over the edge, though, was the Mercury front office’s desire to make a quick push for another WNBA championship — which would be Taurasi’s fourth.
“That’s where I want to get back to,” Taurasi said, via ESPN. “I love to play basketball. I have fun doing it, but it’s always a little bit better when you win and you have that vision and that burning desire that you’re doing it to win a championship.
“They conveyed that to me and I didn’t want to go obviously anywhere else. This is where I want to end my career.”
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