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PLAYERS & TEAM EARNINGS

How Diana Taurasi Got GOATed

It’s hard to keep track of all the trophies and honors Diana Taurasi owns. And the one she just added — greatest player in WNBA history — is awfully hard to argue with.

The concept of the “Greatest of All Time” is rooted in subjectivity. Biggie vs. 2Pac. The Wire vs. The Sopranos. MJ vs. LeBron. It’s awfully difficult to forge a consensus when such supremacy is on the line due to factors like disparate eras, ever-changing criteria, and personal biases.

However, living Phoenix Mercury legend Dana Taurasi has one of the strongest individual cases for GOAT status an individual could bring to bear.

For 17 WNBA seasons, the pride of Chino, California has set records, won every type of gold under the sun, and become a symbol for success that transcends just her own generation. And this weekend during the WNBA Finals — where her Mercury are gunning for another title, naturally — things got official. Following a spirited fan vote held by the league, Taurasi was named the WNBA’s Greatest of All Time.

Let’s talk about how this came to be — and how hard it will be for anyone to catch DT in the years and decades to come.

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The Taurasi Brand

  • 2021 Salary: $221,450; one of seven players making the WNBA’s max salary
  • Earned approx. $1.5 million in 2014 skipping the WNBA season to play overseas in Russia.
  • Second-highest paid WNBA player of all time by career earnings (estimated at $3.2 million)
  • Speaking fee: $20,000-30,000 per engagement.
  • Key Endorsements: Nike, BodyArmor
  • Ranked No. 1 on ESPN’s W25 list

“She’s the GOAT!”

Those were the words of Mercury center Brittney Griner after Taurasi led the Mercury to a Game 5 win in the WNBA Semifinals over the Las Vegas Aces.

The official official fan vote only made things official.

It’s the kind of status that only gets afforded to the likes of Tom Brady, Serena Williams, or Michael Phelps. Her list of on-court accomplishments is miles long and well-earned. But to match such tremendous accolades on paper with consummate respect from fellow legends of past and present is what places her in the uppermost hierarchy in the sport of basketball.

Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird, a legend herself as well as a friend, former college teammate, and WNBA rival of Taurasi’s, likewise acknowledges Diana as the GOAT. “There’s no question in my mind who it is,” Bird said earlier in the season before the Storm hosted the Washington Mystics. “I know that there might be some bias there, which I totally own — maybe even generational bias just because I’ve been able to witness her firsthand, been her teammate [at the University of Connecticut and with USA Basketball], been her opponent. Just the way in which she’s played the game.”

During the 2020 season in the Wubble, various NBA players like Damian Lillard and Devin Booker could be seen walking to the arenas wearing Taurasi “GOAT” t-shirts. Before Game 1 of the WNBA Finals on Sunday, she was presented with a “GOAT ball” after winning the WNBA’s fan vote.

Diana Taurasi has been adding to her list of super-elite accomplishments for so long that the extraordinary has to feel routine at this point. After becoming the first WNBA player to surpass 9,000 career points, she said it was “cool.”

Sure, that’s one way to describe it.

That demeanor has allowed her to come through in high-stakes postseason games. Taurasi is 16-2 in elimination games in her career, including beating Bird and the Seattle Storm in a single-elimination contest this year.

From Connecticut to Phoenix, from Russia to Turkey (and back again), from Athens ’04 to Tokyo ’21, Diana Taurasi has cemented herself to fans and her peers alike as the Greatest of All Time. And no matter what happens in the WNBA Finals against Chicago, she’s earned herself a long victory lap.

Diana Taurasi’s Career Records

  • No. 1 regular season scorer in WNBA history (9,174 points)
  • No. 1 postseason scorer in WNBA history (1,414 points)
  • No. 1 in WNBA season scoring titles (5)
  • No. 1 single-season scoring average (25.3 points per game, 2006)
  • No. 1 in career three-pointers (1,205)
  • Tied at No. 1 for career 40-point games in the regular season (3, with Maya Moore)
  • No. 1 in 20-point games in the regular season (231)
  • No. 1 in All-WNBA selections and All-WNBA First Team selections (14, 10)
  • Tied at No. 1 for Olympic gold medals in basketball (5, with Sue Bird)

Diana Taurasi’s Career Championships

  • NCAA: 3 (2002-’04)
  • WNBA: 3 (2007, ’09, ’14)
  • Russian Premier League: 7 (2007, ’08, 2013–’17)
  • Turkish Super League: 1 (2011)
  • Summer Olympics: 5 (2004, ’08, ’12, ’16, ’21)