Mercury star Diana Taurasi believes time in Russia prepared her for WNBA bubble

Playing in the WNBA’s bubble isn’t for everyone.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, players across the league will be stuck at IMG Academy throughout the entire 22-game regular season and postseason without being able to leave.

Though that can be daunting, Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi knows she has what it takes to handle being isolated for that long. Her time playing in both the EuroLeague and Russian League has more than proven that.

"I know being in an apartment by yourself for many months and not having many people to talk to," Taurasi said, via the Arizona Republic. "For me, that's nothing unusual. And you take solace in being on the court for two hours. That's the only part of life that's normal for us being in here.

"It's a huge sacrifice that we're all making to be here, leaving family and friends. When we're on the court, we've got to make the best of it. These are times we can actually enjoy and really pour ourselves into each other. It's not going to be easy, but that's when you rely on each other."

Taurasi is gearing up for her 16th season in the league, and has spent that entire time with the Mercury — who took her with the No. 1 overall pick in 2004. She played in both Russia and Turkey for more than a decade during the WNBA offseasons, too, and won six different EuroLeague titles.

The 38-year-old averaged 20.7 points and 5.3 assists per game in 2018, her last full season in the league. She played in just six games last season while recovering from back surgery.

Though she doesn’t have to travel as far this time around, Taurasi can see plenty of similarities between the WNBA’s bubble and her time overseas or playing with Team USA.

"This is like an Olympics, Final Four, World Championships," Taurasi via the Arizona Republic. "You see all the teams. You do your job then you have to find a way to stay mentally sane for the rest of the day. It's different now. You have FaceTime. My first couple of years overseas, you literally didn't even have internet. You make the best of it."

Being away from her family

Some players and coaches have brought their families with them to Florida.

Taurasi’s wife, Penny Taylor, and their 2-year-old son Leo stayed behind in Phoenix.

They decided with the coronavirus still raging both in Florida and the country in general that remaining at home is simply safer. Taylor, a Mercury assistant coach, was replaced by Chastity Melvin — who was an assistant at Loyola Maryland last season and spent 12 seasons in the league herself.

"It literally was an hourly decision of coming or not coming," Taurasi via the Arizona Republic. "Ultimately we decided it would be safer for them to stay in Phoenix. For four months now, we've quarantined in the house with just us. As safe as the bubble is, you're automatically exposed to 200 plus people. Just for the safety of Penny and Leo being so little, it was probably the best decision, but a hard decision. It's a long time to be away from your family."

Mercury star Diana Taurasi believes her time playing overseas in Russia and Turkey has prepared her for the WNBA's bubble in Florida.
Mercury star Diana Taurasi believes her time playing overseas in Russia and Turkey has prepared her for the WNBA's bubble in Florida. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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