About the only thing missing from Diana Taurasi’s record-setting day was a victory.
Taurasi became the WNBA’s career scoring leader in front of her family, friends and Kobe Bryant.
With her parents watching, Taurasi passed Tina Thompson on Sunday in the Phoenix Mercury’s 90-59 loss to the Sparks in Los Angeles.
“It’s pretty special I got to do it in front of my family on Father’s Day in LA,” said Taurasi, a four-time Olympic gold medalist who finished with 19 points.
Taurasi came into the needing 14 points to break the mark set by Thompson, a 2004 and 2008 Olympic teammate, and the Mercury guard did it late in the first half on a layup with her team down big.
“Once I got the basket it was pretty cool,” she said. “I was trying not to think about, wanted it to happen and do it organically. It did. You think about all the great players you played with, all the games.”
Taurasi stands alone atop the league’s scoring list. She has 7,494 points and has averaged 19.9 points in her career.
She said in the weeks leading up to the historic points that she wasn’t thinking about the record.
After the basket, the game stopped and Taurasi was given a warm ovation from the crowd that included Bryant and his daughters as well as Taurasi’s.
“We had this planned on the schedule for quite some time,” Bryant said during an interview in-game. “It worked in our favor we could see a historical night.”
Bryant has always been impressed with how hard Taurasi works.
“To be that great for so many years is a testament to her work ethic and commitment to the game,” Bryant told ESPN. “Her intellect and sacrifice. She’s just a phenomenal athlete.”
Thompson offered her congratulations.
“I am excited that it is Diana and it is my absolute pleasure to pass the torch on to her,” Thompson said. “She and I have shared so many amazing moments throughout our basketball careers, whether it was gold medals, championships or All-Star games. Diana is one of the best players to ever play the game and definitely one of my favorites. She has done amazing things and I am so grateful that I’ve been able to share many of those with her. I am really excited for Diana and I think she is going to blow that record out of the water.”
Taurasi, averaging 18.1 points this year, passed Tamika Catchings for second on the WNBA scoring list early this season. It only took the Mercury star 13 seasons to become the league’s top scorer. Thompson needed 17 years to achieve her total.
Earlier in the season, Taurasi set the career 3-pointer record, passing Katie Smith. Taurasi has 927 3-pointers.
She turned 35 this month and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. She recently signed an extension through 2020 and said she hoped to play at a fifth Olympics with one caveat.
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WNBA All-Time Scoring List
1. Diana Taurasi — 7,494
2. Tina Thompson — 7,488
3. Tamika Catchings — 7,380
4. Katie Smith — 6,452
5. Cappie Pondexter — 6,449