Diana Taurasi, the Phoenix Mercury star who stands atop the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer list, reached another milestone in her highly decorated career by becoming the first player to score 10,000 points in league history.
Playing in front of a packed Footprint Center in Phoenix, Taurasi entered Thursday night’s game needing 18 points to reach the historic mark. In the third quarter, the 41-year-old scored the historic basket on a deep three-pointer against the Atlanta Dream.
With her arms waved out and the crowd erupting in cheers, play was immediately stopped as Taurasi gathered in a huddle with her teammates near halfcourt to celebrate.
“The whole time, I’m like I hope this doesn’t screw up our momentum,” Taurasi told ESPN on what was going through her mind during the moment. “We needed this win pretty bad but it really was a nice feeling, you know when there’s anticipation and it kind of works out your way and what a great night for women’s basketball tonight.”
The former MVP finished the night with a season-high 42 points, the most she’s scored during regulation in a game in her career, in the Mercury’s 91-71 victory over the Dream. According to ESPN, Taurasi is the oldest player in league history to score 40 or more points in a game.
After the game Taurasi was seen embracing with teammate Brittney Griner, who missed her third consecutive game due to mental health.
“When you do something you love and you obsess with it, you just always want to push the limits,” Taurasi said on reaching the milestone. “And sometimes pushing the limits has got me in trouble but I just love the game, just put everything into it and to have a night like this in front of our fans and people that I’ve known for a long time that really helped me get here, it couldn’t have been any better.”
Taurasi was drafted by the Mercury with the No. 1 pick in 2004 after a successful collegiate career at UConn, where she helped lead the Huskies to three consecutive NCAA championships.
Her success has continued at the professional level, where the 10-time All-Star has led the Mercury to three WNBA championships (2007, 2009, 2014) while being named WNBA Finals MVP twice.
Among other milestones, Taurasi is the league’s all-time three-point and playoff scoring leader and holds the single-season scoring record (25.3 ppg in 2006). She’s also won the scoring title five times in her career, including four straight from 2008-11.
On the international level, Taurasi is a five-time Olympic gold medalist with Team USA and a six-time Euroleague champion.
“On behalf of the WNBA and basketball fans worldwide, I want to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Diana on reaching the incredible milestone of 10,000 points as she continues to author new chapters is an illustrious WNBA career,” league commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement.
“I have had the pleasure of watching her play first as a fan and now as Commissioner of the WNBA. Diana’s achievement stands as a testament to her skill, determination, and unwavering dedication to the game, which along with her competitive nature, has captivated fans with her incredible scoring ability, clutch performances, and unparalleled basketball IQ. We are honored to witness this milestone.”