Diana Taurasi’s wife, family, career and more

The Phoenix Mercury’s 2024 season is critical, and it could be the final chapter for the legendary partnership of Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner. The duo defined the Mercury’s identity and success over the past decade, combining Taurasi’s legendary scoring prowess with Griner’s dominance in the paint. As they begin their campaign against the defending champion Las Vegas Aces, the team faces a season of reflection and anticipation.

Leadership inheritance

When Brittney Griner joined the Phoenix Mercury in 2013, she was welcomed into the fold by seasoned veteran Diana Taurasi. By then, Taurasi had already solidified her place as one of the WNBA’s greatest players, leading the Mercury to two championships and becoming the league’s all-time leading scorer. Taurasi’s mentorship was direct and impactful, and she shared her wealth of knowledge and experience with Griner. The partnership flourished both on and off the court, winning their first championship together in Griner’s second season.

The relationship between Taurasi and Griner transcended that of teammates; they became close friends, like sisters. Their relationship was tested when Griner faced a terrifying ordeal – being illegally detained in a Russian labor camp for nearly a year. During this time, the future of their partnership was uncertain, but Griner’s return brought new hope. Despite the challenges of the 2023 season, which saw the Mercury finish last in the league, the two remained committed to success.

Rebuilding the Future

The Phoenix Mercury went through a major transformation before the 2024 season. After the team was sold to Michigan mortgage executive Matt Ishbia, the team hired a new coach and general manager from the NBA to revamp the roster. The restructuring was intended to build a stronger, younger, and tougher team around Taurasi and Griner. Star point guard Skylar Diggins-Smith was replaced by WNBA champions Kaleigh Cooper and Natasha Crowder, adding new energy and diversity to the roster.

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With Taurasi’s contract set to expire and her 42nd birthday approaching, retirement is imminent. She enters her 20th season in the WNBA as the league’s all-time leading scorer and a role model for many. Her commitment to the game remains unwavering and she continues to embrace the challenge of competing at the highest level. However, the toll taken on her body by numerous injuries, including serious hip and spinal issues, suggests this season could be her last.

Griner’s resilience

The journey back to form has been difficult for Brittney Griner. Her unlawful detention in Russia has left her with lasting physical and mental trauma that will impact her return to the WNBA in 2023. Griner missed several games for mental health reasons, and this season has been a tough one for both her and the Mercury. Despite these challenges, Griner’s resolve has only grown stronger. She vowed to stay with the Mercury, recently re-signed with the team, and expressed her renewed dedication to the game.

Griner’s perspective on basketball has changed since her ordeal. She no longer sees the sport as her be-all and end-all experience, which she describes as an “end-of-the-world” one. This new perspective has brought clarity and determination, and Griner is focused on making the most of her time on the court. With wife Cherelle expecting their first child soon, Griner is making major changes in her life, adding another layer of motivation for the upcoming season.

Final push

As the Mercury begins the 2024 season, the sense of urgency is palpable. This year marks the pinnacle of the Taurasi-Griner partnership and a defining era for Arizona women’s basketball. New leadership and a new roster are designed to support this star duo in what could be their last time together. The addition of a new practice facility, set to open in July, demonstrates the team’s commitment to providing the best environment for its players.

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The impending retirement of Taurasi and the uncertainty surrounding Griner’s future with the team make this season even more important. Taurasi is preparing for her sixth Olympics and the possibility of the end of her stellar career, while Griner is focused on the present and determined to contribute to the Mercury’s success. What fans want to know is whether this legendary duo can lead Phoenix to another championship.

All in all, the 2024 season is a pivotal moment for the Phoenix Mercury. As Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner prepare to take the court, they know this may be their last chance to achieve great things together. The upcoming season will not only be a testament to their resilience and dedication, but also a celebration of their lasting legacy in the WNBA.

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