My Sportsman: Diana Taurasi
The WNBA is not water-cooler conversation, at least not any water-cooler at which I've quenched my thirst over the years. An unusually high number of males, young and old, seem compelled to tell me that they don't watch the sport, much in the same manner that someone boasts that he doesn't watch
But though I am hardly a loyal women's hoops follower, I have the same response to the anti-WNBA-ers: Have you seen
I don't feel comfortable with my overall knowledge of women's basketball to declare that the Mercury swingwoman (is that a word?) is the greatest player ever. But she is the most recent link on the evolutionary chain that passes through
It is no coincidence that wherever Taurasi goes, hardware appears. UConn won three straight NCAA championships and compiled a record of 139-8 with Taurasi leading the way in the early years of the century. Within the Nutmeg State, she became the diplomatic successor to another UConn star,
The 2009 WNBA championship was her second with Phoenix.
In the decisive Game 5 finale, Taurasi scored a game-high 26 points and made four of her last five three-point attempts. Why? Because that's what she does. It's part of the cutthroat brio that defines her. She's the same way off the court, aggressive, open-minded, free with her opinions. Forced to make the predictable comparison to a male player, the one that most closely fits is
The free spirit in her, however, has been a bit too free on occasion. She was arrested several hours after a July 2 game this season and charged with DUI for driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.17 percent, more than twice Arizona's legal limit. She plead guilty to DUI on Oct. 12; charges of extreme DUI and speeding were dropped. Taurasi spent a day in jail after a judge suspended nine days of her sentence.
Characteristically, she never ran away from the controversy, never waved it off with a I've talked about that enough, never hid behind platitudes. Taurasi said that she made a mistake and conceded that it hurt her. "You know, the last month has been an incredible high," Taurasi told reporters after Game 5. "But rewind two and a half months ago and I was probably as low as I can get. I'm the type of person who wakes up every day happy. But it was tough to wake up happy every day for a couple of weeks."
We don't pick perfect people to be our Sportsman; if we did, the award would be vacant every year. We pick people who put it on the line on, dazzle us with their talent and demonstrate their passion for the game to us, transferring some of it to us in the process. That is Taurasi.