PHOENIX (AP) — Diana Taurasi received a pass and in an instant, the shot was off her fingertips. It was a 3-pointer that splashed through the net, just like so many others.
Taurasi became the first WNBA player to reach 10,000 points, hitting the mark with 8:23 remaining in the third quarter against the Atlanta Dream on Thursday night. After the shot, the crowd in Phoenix erupted in cheers and Taurasi’s teammates surrounded her in a circle, jumping up and down and celebrating.
“It was a cool night — you couldn’t have wrote this any better for our fans and our city,” Taurasi said. “I’m really thankful for my teammates because moments like this, it’s everyone’s moment. They really came with me and wanted me to do it tonight.”
It was a vintage performance from Taurasi, who reminded everyone just how incredible she’s been in her career with a season-high 42 points on 12 of 21 shooting, including 6 of 13 from 3-point range. She also hit all 12 of her free throws and the Mercury won 91-71.
The 41-year-old guard started the night needing 18 points to make it to 10,000 — and finished at 10,024.
“Tomorrow, I’ll feel like I’m 50,” Taurasi said grinning.
“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.” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement.
“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.”
Taurasi got her scoring started Thursday with a corner 3-pointer about two minutes into the game and then drove through the Atlanta defense for a layup a few minutes later. She had 10 points by halftime.
She was right back at it in the third quarter, hitting a layup on the Mercury’s first possession. Then she hit back-to-back 3-pointers — the last a 28-footer over two defenders that got her to 10,000 points.
“I came here a little nervous, I didn’t want to disappoint anyone, I just wanted to get it over with for a sense of relief,” Taurasi said. “But at the same time, I was just focusing on trying to win a game.”
It’s been a tough year for the Mercury, who have a 7-19 record. But this was a moment the whole franchise could celebrate. In a postgame celebration, Taurasi was presented several gifts and listened to several tributes on the video board, including from NBA commissioner Adam Silver, tennis icon Billie Jean King, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley and Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.
Taurasi has been the cornerstone of the Phoenix franchise since she was drafted first in 2004 out of UConn. She not only is the career regular-season scoring leader, but also holds that mark in the playoffs. She’s won three WNBA championships for the Mercury and was twice the MVP of the Finals.
Taurasi has averaged more than 19 points in her career, including a career-high 25.3 points in 2006. She is more than 2,500 points ahead of Tina Thompson, who is second on the scoring list with 7,488 points.
Cheyenne Parker had 20 points for the Dream.