Diana Taurasi: The Value Of A WNBA Superstar
by Alana Glass, Contributor Forbes.com
Last September, I sat courtside at the 2014 WNBA Finals and watched Diana Taurasi lead the Phoenix Mercury to its third WNBA Championship (2007, 2009, and 2014). While Taurasi was named the 2014 Finals MVP, in true leader form, she gave equal credit for the Mercury’s regular season and playoff success to her teammates. At that moment, I was sure Taurasi would be motivated and ready to lead the Mercury to a back-to-back championship in 2015.
However, when you are a seasoned professional athlete, sometimes other factors take priority over winning. For Taurasi, in 2015 her health will take precedence. For this reason, she is choosing to sit out the 19th WNBA season.
There is no question that she made one of the most difficult decisions of her professional career. No one enjoys winning – or hating to lose – more than Taurasi. Do not forget, prior to the WNBA she amassed a 139-8 winning record at UConn and won three NCAA Championships.
Since 2004, the first overall draft pick, seven-time WNBA all-star, and three-time Olympic gold medalist (2004, 2008, and 2012) has been playing basketball year-round.
The WNBA and its President, Laurel J. Richie, respect Taurasi’s decision to rest in 2015.
“She has been playing competitively for ten years, year-round, with very little downtime. She is taking this opportunity to rest, and I completely understand that,” said Richie during a phone interview with FORBES.com. “She deserves to rest, and I think she will come back terrific in 2016.”
Resting is not a new phenomenon for the WNBA. In 2012, Taurasi played only eight games. Other current and former players, such as Candace Parker and Lisa Leslie, have also rested for personal reasons, such as maternity leaves.
Although, Taurasi’s decision to rest adds a financial element to the equation, which women’s basketball has not experienced before.
In her letter to the fans, she stated, “The year-round nature of women’s basketball takes its toll and the financial opportunity with my team in Russia would have been irresponsible to turn down.”