LOS ANGELES — Diana Taurasi took the court at Staples Center on Sunday afternoon with the energy and excitement of someone who knew she was about to break a league record.
Just over 26 minutes later, the Phoenix Mercury guard accomplished just that, scoring her 7,489th career point and topping WNBA legend Tina Thompson in the record books in a game against the Los Angeles Sparks.
“It’s pretty special when you pass Tina in anything, she’s been such an amazing player for the WNBA and just for basketball in general, she’s such an icon,” Taurasi said. “And when you start thinking about you know more of the people that you’ve shared the court with, the coaches, the teams, you know I’ve been pretty lucky to be around a lot great players.”
Taurasi aggressiveness and grit showed from the start of the game, and she found herself in almost immediate foul trouble after she elbowed and shoved an opponent on defense, earning boos from the home crowd. She then went on to rack up two more fouls, one of which was called as a technical foul.
The desire to stop Taurasi and the adrenaline of playing at home helped the Sparks surge to a 22-2 lead before Taurasi managed to put herself on the scoreboard with a three-pointer.
The guard sat out the remainder of the first quarter to avoid further trouble, but she rallied minutes later.
Taurasi re-entered the game to start the second quarter with her usual spunk. She notched nine more points, two of which came from beyond the arc, yet the Mercury still trailed by 20. With two minutes to play in the half, Taurasi needed just three more points.
And those three points came almost immediately. One foul shot in. Two points to go. Layup. Record.
diana taurasi becomes the wnba all time leading scorer pic.twitter.com/rWe7DWnYIb
— jack (@jackhaveitall) June 18, 2017
Hitting the record at the Staples Center proved to be a sort of a homecoming for Taurasi, as she grew up just down the road from the arena in Chino, California.
“I played a lot of basketball in the streets of Los Angles,” Taurasi said. “In the valley, riverside, and it’s really where I fell in love with the game, practiced and grinded it out everyday when there weren’t any cameras, and you just did it because you wanted to win and you wanted to play basketball.”
Taurasi may not have hit her 7,489th point in front of her home crowd in Phoenix, but the L.A. fans paid her respect. The game stopped, and Taurasi was presented with the game ball and a standing ovation commenced around her. Kobe Bryant also showed his support for Taurasi, cheering court-side, and Tarusai said she considers Bryant to be one of the biggest role models in the sport.
— WNBA (@WNBA) June 18, 2017
“That’s the one guy that I just admire so much,” Taurasi said. “To follow his whole career, there is no one like Kobe. There is no one that wanted to win as bad as he did. No one wanted to get better as [much as] he did. I would say if there is one person that kids should look at and really study it’s Kobe.”