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The legend of Diana Taurasi: WNBA players on the one-of-a-kind trash-talker and champion

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Diana Taurasi doesn’t mince words on the basketball court. She’s known to say things — anything — to get a rise out of opposing players, coaches and even referees.

During the third quarter of a game against the Minnesota Lynx last year, the Phoenix Mercury guard made a comment that was caught on camera and became an instant classic. Disagreeing with a foul call, Taurasi pointed her finger at a referee and uttered “I’ll see you in the lobby later” with such Taurasi-esque fervor that a hallway confrontation seemed inevitable.

Within hours, Twitter lit up with video clips, memes and quotes of Taurasi’s now legendary phrase. The moment was even made into a T-shirt. And, in Taurasi’s 17th season, it has only cemented her reputation as one of the funniest and boldest trash-talkers in WNBA history.

“She gets on people. Just some of her combination of words — like, how do you even think of that?” says Mercury guard and teammate Shey Peddy. “Sometimes she might get a technical for it, and I know a few times I’m talking to the ref like, ‘She didn’t mean that. She’s just joking around.’ She can be, uh, pretty ruthless out there. I think that’s what I love about it. She’s got no filter, at all.”

In the same 2020 bubble season, Ariel Atkins remembers Taurasi going on a scoring tear against the Washington Mystics, racking up 15 points in a matter of minutes, when Mystics head coach Mike Thibault shouted something in Taurasi’s direction.

“Of course, she’s talking through the whole game,” Atkins says. “She looks up and says, ‘All right, Mike. Come on, four years ago it would be thirty by now,’ or something like that. And I’m just like, man, the level of confidence she has. She’s, like, mentally different, man. It’s one of those things — some people just have it. Obviously, she has it.”

As hard as Taurasi plays basketball and as steely as her expression is when she’s staring down opponents, she can be just as laidback in other situations, often using humor to lighten up a locker room interview. She is as charismatic off the court as she is ruthless on it. And those who have interacted with Taurasi, whether playing alongside her or against her, appreciate and respect both sides.

“I’d much rather play with her than against her, that’s for sure,” says Atlanta Dream forward Candice Dupree. “She’s a competitor. I always said she almost transforms into this completely different person when she is on the court.”

Dupree loved being Taurasi’s teammate for the seven years she spent in Phoenix. The team joked around a lot, but when it came to the business of basketball, Taurasi knew how to motivate her teammates like no one else. And when she jawed at other players and refs — well, that was just Taurasi being Taurasi.

“I love how she trash talks to players and gets in heads that way, but she can also back it up,” Peddy says. “We all gravitate to her when she’s on the court. She doesn’t sugarcoat things, she’s real. She’s gonna tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear, whether you like it or not. And you need that in your leadership and your veteran players.”

Taurasi has played with the Mercury for all 17 seasons of her WNBA career. (Phoenix Mercury)

Lindsay Whalen played against Taurasi for years as a member of the Connecticut Sun and the Minnesota Lynx before she retired in 2018. Their matchups were always competitive and physical. But when they played together for Team USA in 2012 and 2016, Whalen marveled not only at Taurasi’s charisma and sense of humor but also at how she approached the game.

“I think the more I got into being her teammate with USA Basketball is when I saw why she is so great, how she handled herself,” Whalen says. “I learned how to be a champion, honestly, from watching Diana.”

Whalen, who won four championships with the Lynx during her career, says she’ll never forget what happened after Team USA won gold in London in 2012. She and Taurasi were standing next to each other in line, waiting for their gold medals to be handed out, when Taurasi turned to her and said, “You know, nobody deserves this more than you. I’m so happy for you.”

“We’re talking about two decades now as the best player in the game and the ambassador, so for her to say that to me is just something I’ll never forget,” Whalen says.

Part of Taurasi’s on-court persona is about exercising her confidence and getting into opponents’ heads. The other part is about winning. It’s a cycle that feeds itself — the more Taurasi talks, the better she plays, and vice versa. It’s a light switch that flips on when the game starts. One moment, she’ll be chatting up a rookie before the tip as if the two of them are old friends, and the next she’ll be in someone’s ear about not being able to guard her.

“I don’t know if it was my rookie year or my second year, I was always shocked that she even knew who I was,” says Atlanta Dream center Elizabeth Williams. “She was like, ‘Oh, hey Liz,’ and I was like, ‘Wait, what?!’”

Williams interacted with Taurasi for the first time off the court during All-Star weekend in 2017 and was surprised by Taurasi’s cool demeanor.

“She can talk to anyone, like it doesn’t matter how old you are, how young you are, who you are, and I think that’s so cool about her,” Williams says. “Then on the court, I mean, she is who she is. You just kind of know. I think people see how she is on the court and think that she’s like that off the court, but she’s really not.”

(Jesse Louie/Just Women's Sports)

Myisha Hines-Allen got to know that side of Taurasi during a game her rookie year with the Mystics, and not just because it was Hines-Allen’s birthday.

“I was happy to play against a great player like her, but also at the same time just go against her,” the Mystics forward says. “And her first words when I was in the game … I got switched on to her or whatever, and I was like pressed up on her, not helping or anything, and she’s like, ‘So, you’re not gonna go and help?’ And I’m like, ‘Nope, I’m on you. I don’t care about what everyone else is doing, I’m on you.’”

Los Angeles Sparks forward Lauren Cox witnessed Taurasi’s charm in the bubble last season.

“She’s one of the greatest players to ever play the game, and she’s saying hi to a rookie that she’s never met before — that was really cool,” Cox said.

Mystics guard Sydney Wiese grew up watching Taurasi. When she arrived in the WNBA in 2017, she didn’t know how to separate fact from fiction after hearing about the legend of Taurasi’s on-court personality.

“You just hear her voice. You constantly hear her voice in so many ways, whether it’s to her teammates, the other team, to the refs, to the coaches,” Wiese says.

“I mean, it’s such a dangerous thing to try and talk back to DT. I feel like she feeds off of that. And you don’t want to feed into that fire. I know that she uses her voice to try and get a rise out of people, to try and get into people’s heads. And then if you try and talk back, you’ll feed into another level of her competitively. That’s what I’ve learned firsthand being on the court with her.”

Sue Bird has known Taurasi for over 20 years. The two played college basketball together at UConn, spent time overseas in Russia, won five gold medals as teammates for Team USA, and currently have the longest-running careers in the WNBA. Even though Bird and Taurasi are great friends and they have fun when they play against each other, Bird knows better than to respond to Taurasi’s quips.

“Generally, I don’t talk trash,” Bird told The Athletic in 2019. “But I especially don’t talk trash to Dee. She thrives on that. When I’m on her team and I see people poke the bear, so to speak, I know she’s going to have a big night. So when I’m on the other side, I tell all my teammates, do not talk trash. You’re going to want to. She’s going to push you in ways that’s going to make you want to talk trash. The minute something good happens, you’re going to want to clap and get excited about it.

“I know trying to talk trash to Dee is a lose-lose.”

Taurasi and Bird made history at the Tokyo Olympics this summer, winning their fifth gold medal. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

For every one of Taurasi’s antics caught on camera, there are so many more that are never shared off the basketball court. Dupree has heard Taurasi say things she can’t repeat, even if they made her laugh. Peddy, too. It comes with the territory when your teammate is one of the fiercest WNBA players to ever lace up a pair of sneakers.

Taurasi has long been the greatest WNBA scorer of all time, leading the league in career points at 9,161 and climbing. She’s also first in career field goals, free throws and 3-pointers made. Those records are as much a part of her legendary status as her cutthroat play and unsparing comments.

Taurasi, in the twilight of her WNBA career, hasn’t indicated when she plans to retire. Until that day comes, there will be more Taurasi quips, more antics, more stories, more shots taken, more points scored and, no doubt, more arguments with referees.

But there will only ever be one Diana Taurasi. That’s a given.

USWNT to face Costa Rica in final Olympic send-off

uswnt sophia smith and tierna davidson celebrate at shebeilves cup 2024
The USWNT will play their final pre-Olympic friendly against Costa Rica on July 16th. (Photo by Greg Bartram/ISI Photos/USSF/Getty Images for USSF)

U.S. Soccer announced Tuesday that the USWNT will play their last home game on July 16th in the lead-up to the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris.

The 2024 Send-Off Match against Costa Rica will take place at Washington, DC’s Audi Field — home to both the Washington Spirit and DC United — at 7:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, July 16th. The friendly rounds out a four-game Olympic run-up campaign under incoming head coach Emma Hayes’ side, with the last two set to feature the finalized 2024 U.S. Olympic Women’s Soccer Team roster.

Hayes will appear on the USWNT sideline for the first time this June, helming the team as they embark on a two-game series against Korea Republic hosted by Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado on June 1st followed by Allianz Stadium in St. Paul, Minnesota on June 4th. 

The team is then scheduled to meet a talented Mexico squad on July 13th at Gotham FC’s Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, where the Olympic-bound lineup will attempt to rewrite February’s shocking 2-0 loss to El Tri Femenil in the group stages of this year’s Concacaf W Gold Cup. And while clear roster favorites have emerged from both of this year’s Gold Cup and SheBelives Cup rosters, a spate of recent and recurring injuries means making it to the Olympics is still largely anyone’s game.

Broadcast and streaming channels for the USWNT's final July 16th friendly at Audi Field include TNT, truTV, Universo, Max, and Peacock.

Caitlin Clark’s WNBA start to serve as 2024 Olympic tryout

Clark of the Indiana Fever poses for a photo with Lin Dunn and Christie Sides during her introductory press conference on April 17, 2024
The talented Fever rookie is still in the running for a ticket to this summer's Paris Olympics. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

The USA Basketball Women's National Team is still considering Caitlin Clark for a spot on the Paris Olympics squad, says selection committee chair Jennifer Rizzotti. 

On Monday, Rizzotti told the AP that the committee will be evaluating the college phenom’s Olympic prospects by keeping a close eye on her first few weeks of WNBA play with Indiana.

The move is somewhat unconventional. While Clark was invited to participate in the 14-player national team training camp held earlier this month — the last camp before Team USA’s roster drops — she was unable to attend due to it coinciding with Iowa’s trip to the NCAA Women’s Final Four.

Judging by the immense talent spread throughout the league in what might be their most hyped season to date, competition for a piece of the Olympic pie could be fiercer than ever before.

"You always want to introduce new players into the pool whether it's for now or the future," said Rizzotti. "We stick to our principles of talent, obviously, positional fit, loyalty and experience. It's got to be a combination of an entire body of work. It's still not going to be fair to some people."

Of course, Clark isn’t the first rookie the committee has made exceptions for. Coming off an exceptional college season that saw her averaging 19.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 4 assists per game for UConn, Breanna Stewart was tapped to represent the U.S. at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil less than two weeks after being drafted No. 1 overall by the Seattle Storm. Eight years prior, fellow No. 1 pick Candace Parker punched her ticket to the 2008 Games in Beijing just two weeks after making her first appearance for the L.A. Sparks.

In the lead-up to Paris’ Opening Ceremony on July 26th, USA Basketball Women’s National Team is scheduled to play a pair of exhibition games. They'll first go up against the WNBA's finest at the July 20th WNBA All-Star Game in Phoenix before facing Germany in London on July 23rd.

While an official roster announcement date hasn’t yet been issued, players won’t find out if they’ve made this year’s Olympic cut until at least June 1st.

WNBA teams make history with 2024 season ticket sell-outs

Arike Ogunbowale on the wnba court for the dallas wings
The Dallas Wings are now the third team to sell out their entire season ticket allotment in WNBA history. (Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)

For the first time in history, three different WNBA teams have completely sold out of season ticket plans well before the league's May 14th kick-off.

Call it the Caitlin Clark effect, attribute it to this year’s tenacious rookie class, or look to the skyrocketing visibility of veteran players across the board. But no matter the cause, facts are facts: Tickets to the 2024 WNBA season are selling like never before. 

On Monday, the Dallas Wings became the third team to sell out of season ticket memberships in the league’s 27-year history. The announcement from Arlington came shortly after the Atlanta Dream issued their own season ticket sell-out statement, also on Monday, and almost seven weeks after the back-to-back WNBA Champion Las Vegas Aces made headlines by becoming the first-ever WNBA team to sell out their season ticket allotment.   

According to the Wings, season ticket memberships will fill nearly 40% of the 6,251 seats inside their home arena, College Park Center. The club also said that their overall ticket revenue has ballooned to the tune of 220% this year, spanning not just season tickets but also a 1,200% increase in single ticket sales. There’s currently a waitlist to become a Dallas season ticket holder, a status that comes with extra incentives like playoff presale access and discounts on additional single-game tickets. 

In Atlanta, season tickets aren't the only thing flying off the shelves. The Dream also announced that they broke their own record for single-game ticket sales during a recent limited presale campaign. Sunday was reportedly their most lucrative day, with five different games totally selling out Gateway Center Arena. Individual tickets for all upcoming matchups will hit the market this Thursday at 8 a.m., while a waitlist for season ticket memberships will open up next Tuesday at 10 a.m.

"Excitement around women's sports, particularly basketball, is at an all-time high and nowhere is that felt more than here in Atlanta," Dream president and COO Morgan Shaw Parker said in the team’s statement. "We’ve continued a record-setting growth trajectory over the past three years under new ownership — both on and off the court — and 2024 is shaping up to be our best season yet."

As of Tuesday, season ticket sales revenue for Caitlin Clark’s hotly anticipated Indiana Fever debut haven’t yet been announced by the club. But if these numbers are any indication — not to mention the explosive demand for Fever away games felt by teams around the country — it won’t be long before we see some scale-tipping figures coming out of Indianapolis.

Nelly Korda ties LPGA record with fifth-straight tournament win

Nelly Korda of the United States celebrates with the trophy after winning The Chevron Championship
Nelly Korda poses with her trophy after acing her fifth-straight tour title at The Chevron Championship on Sunday. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

25-year-old American pro golfer Nelly Korda secured her spot in LPGA history on Sunday, notching her fifth-straight title at this weekend's Chevron Championship in The Woodlands, Texas.

Ranked No. 1 in the world by Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, Korda joins Nancy Lopez (1978) and Annika Sörenstam (2005) as just the third LPGA player to rack up five consecutive tour wins. She is also the third No. 1-ranked player to capture The Chevron Championship victory since the rankings debuted in 2006, accompanied by Lorena Ochoa and Lydia Ko.

The Florida native shot three-under 69 in Sunday's final, besting Sweden's Maja Stark despite Stark's valiant come-from-behind attempt in the 18th. Korda finished with a four-day total of 13-under 275, celebrating her two-stroke win by cannonballing into Poppie's Pond, much to the crowd's delight. She left The Club at Carlton Woods with $1.2 million from an overall purse of $7.9 million.

It wasn't long ago that the two-time major champion's current winning streak seemed unimaginable. After maintaining her No. 1 position for 29 weeks, Korda underwent surgery to remove a blood clot from her left arm in 2022. She returned to the course not long after, but failed to win a single tournament in 2023 before seeing a surge in form during the first four months of 2024. As of today, she hasn't lost a tournament since January.

Korda will attempt a record sixth-straight win at next week's JM Eagle LA Championship at Wilshire Country Club in Los Angeles, where she'll vie for a cut of the $3.75 million purse.

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