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Diana Taurasi will sit out 2015 WNBA season, star’s Russian club team to pay her for the summer

Published on February 3, 2015

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Diana Taurasi’s Letter to Fans

Release from the Phoenix Mercury:

Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi will not play the 2015 WNBA season, the team announced today. Taurasi’s lucrative contract with the Russian team for which she has played during the last several WNBA offseasons includes an offer to pay her to rest this summer. With that, and the prospect of playing in the 2016 Olympics and future WNBA seasons, she has chosen to rest during the 2015 campaign. Taurasi will return to the team for the 2016 season.

“An athlete’s career is finite, and we support any choice Diana makes in the best interest of her longterm health and which has the potential to prolong her career,” said Mercury General Manager Jim Pitman. “We know how much Diana cares about the Mercury organization, team and fans. While we do not underestimate her value to our team, we remain committed to our organization’s stated mission to win championships and create sustained success. We return the league’s best coach and the best core of players in the WNBA, we will work to improve the roster around them, and we will settle for nothing less than defending our title.”

“We understand Diana’s choice not to play this season, a decision that undoubtedly will extend her career and will benefit the Mercury in the future,” said Mercury Head Coach Sandy Brondello. “Obviously it is hard to replace someone of her caliber, but we are confident in our other key personnel on our roster continuing their development and rising to the challenge. Jim Pitman and I are actively pursuing quality free agents that will complement our players and greatly assist us in our quest to defend our title in 2015.”

“This was a decision I felt was in my best interest, both now and for the future,” said Taurasi. “I look forward to being back on the court in front of the best fans in the WNBA in 2016.”

Taurasi has spent her entire 11-year WNBA career with the Mercury after being selected as the No. 1 overall pick out of the University of Connecticut in the 2004 WNBA Draft. She is the WNBA’s the second all-time leading scorer with 6,722 career points, just 766 points behind Tina Thompson (7,488 points) and her all-time scoring average of 20.1 points is also second in league history behind Cynthia Cooper (21.0 points). One of the most decorated players in women’s basketball history, Taurasi picked up her second career WNBA Finals MVP award in 2014. She averaged 16.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.6 assists for the WNBA Champion Mercury a season ago. The even-time WNBA All-Star has also won three Olympic Gold medals as a member of Team USA (2004, 2008, 2012).

Diana Taurasi’s Letter to Fans

This is a letter to say I will see you in 2016.

I was raised in California, have lived all over the world, but most days Phoenix feels like home.

That’s one of the reasons writing this letter could be difficult—because it could be about saying I won’t see you in 2015. By now you have probably heard from the team that I won’t be playing for the Mercury this season, that I have made the choice to take the summer of 2015 off.

This decision isn’t a statement about the Mercury. I said it at our championship rally last September, but I want to repeat it here: the day I was drafted to the City of Phoenix and the Mercury organization was the luckiest of my life. Our team, our coaches and our organization include some of the best people in my life. And they deserve your support whether or not I’m there—because they are still going to be damn good.

The year-round nature of women’s basketball takes its toll and the financial opportunity with my team in Russia would have been irresponsible to turn down. They offered to pay me to rest and I’ve decided to take them up on it. I want to be able to take care of myself and my family when I am done playing.

Last year was one of the best basketball experiences of my life and it’s because of the path we took to get there, all that we as a team have been through since 2009’s confetti fell—all that you all went through with us. Those of you who were at our championship rally remember that I said bringing that trophy back to Phoenix was the best moment of my life so far. And I meant it.

But this isn’t a letter about all of that.

This letter is a thank you for your support, for making this team and this city my home.

This is a letter to say there is still more work to be done and more championships to be won.

This is a letter to say I will see you in 2016.


 

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