Professional Basketball

On 42-Point Night, Taurasi Nets 10,000th Career Point


Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi is the only WNBA player to score more than 10,000 points in her career, an accomplishment she achieved Thursday night against the Atlanta Dream. File photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine

Phoenix Mercury point guard Moriah Jefferson was moving towards the sideline just past the Mercury logo in the middle of the floor while setting up the Mercury offense with 8:29 left on the clock in the third quarter. She reversed course, dribbled back to the logo and passed to a cutting Diana Taurasi who was open for a three-pointer. The ball was barely in Taurasi’s fingertips when she received it three seconds later. A quick heave and the ball went through the net, a three-pointer with 8:23 remaining in the quarter. The game was stopped briefly for a small celebration that was held on the court.

This would normally be just another day in the office for Taurasi, the 41-year old Phoenix Mercury guard. However, on this night, August 3, 2023 against the Atlanta Dream, the three-pointer made WNBA history. It further put Taurasi into an elite category as the only WNBA player to ever surpass 10,000 points.

“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,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert through an official press release issued after the milestone was reached.

“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.”

Following the game, the Phoenix Mercury held a locker room celebration in honor of Taurasi’s accomplishment as a wrap up to the “Drive to 10K” marketing campaign.

The path to this milestone began 7,014 days ago when Taurasi hit a jump shot in a game against the Sacramento Monarchs on May 20, 2004. She scored 22 points in the 72-66 loss, but it was the very first points of her career. Since then, she has played in 522 regular season games spanning 19 seasons, not including 2015 which she sat out.

Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi is also the only WNBA player to score 40+ points in a game after turning 40 years of age. The only NBA player to accomplish this feat is Chicago Bulls-Washington Wizards legend Michael Jordan. File photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine.

The first milestone, 1,000 career points, occurred on August 18, 2005, a baseline jumper in a 77-66 loss at the Houston Comets. Taurasi only scored 10 points in that game.

She surpassed 2,000 career points during a 76-67 loss at Connecticut on June 2, 2007. She scored 13 points in that contest.

Taurasi was the fastest player to hit the 3,000 point plateau, doing so in her 151st regular season game when she scored 30 in a 99-94 win versus Houston on July 8, 2008.

The 4,000 point barrier was crossed on a three-pointer versus Atlanta on Sept. 5, 2009. Taurasi scored 13 points in the 100-82 win over the Dream.

She was the fastest player to 5,000 points, a free throw shot with 3:45 remaining in the third quarter in the July 16, 2011 game against Washington. It was her 243rd game, which surpassed Seattle Storm center Lauren Jackson’s mark by 16 games. Taurasi scored 13 points in the 78-64 win over the Mystics.

A layup in a 77-56 win over the Tulsa Shock on a night where she scored 20 points put Taurasi over the 6,000 mark on August 11, 2013.

We shouldn’t forget the long three-pointer with 1:08 left in the third quarter in a 91-79 win at Washington. She crossed the 7,000 level on a night when she scored 27 points. It was her 348th game.

However, a major milestone was passed nearly a year later. In the closing seconds of the first half in a 90-59 loss at Los Angeles, she drove past Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike in the paint for a layup. The date was June 18, 2017 and it was the night when she broke Tina Thompson’s record of 7,488 career points. The 19-point effort that night put her as the sole record holder for “Most Points in a Career.” She has added much more to that in the next six years. In the stands that night was Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who gave Taurasi the moniker of the “White Mamba.”

A three-point play on June 5, 2018 would find her passing the 8,000 point plateau in an 80-74 win at the New York Liberty. After her 21 point performance that night, Taurasi said, “somebody will come along and break it eventually. It’s a nice round number.” Five years later and nobody has touched that mark yet.

Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi surpassed the 10,000 point mark in her 522nd regular season game in her 19th season of WNBA play. File photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine

After a five-week absence, Taurasi netted 25-points in an 88-79 win over the Sparks in Phoenix on June 27, 2021. Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul was in attendance when she crossed the 9,000-points mark.

Going into Thursday’s game, she needed only 18 points to become the only WNBA player to score 10,000. She finished with 42 points on the night, giving her 10,024 for her career, in her 522nd regular season game, and she hasn’t retired yet.

It is going to take a long time for another player to come close to reaching this milestone. Rounding out the top five in career points are players who are no longer playing: Tina Thompson (7,488); Tamika Catchings (7,380); Tina Charles (7,115) and Candice Dupree (6,895). The closest active players are former Taurasi teammate, Connecticut Sun forward DeWanna Bonner, who is in eighth place with 6,680 points; and Las Vegas Aces forward Candace Parker, in ninth place with 6,574 career points.

Taurasi is also the first WNBA player to score more than 40 points after the age of 40. Her 42 points is her fourth highest career single-game total. Michael Jordan is the only NBA player to score 40 or more points after his 40th birthday, putting Taurasi into elite company.

Now that the “Drive to 10K” has been accomplished, it will be time for Taurasi to go back to work. Her Phoenix Mercury (7-19) will host the Seattle Storm (6-20) for a 9 p.m. CT matchup on Saturday at the Footprint Center in Phoenix and the march to 11K begins.

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