Diana Taurasi frustrated by WNBA travel constraints, quick return to finals

PHOENIX – Phoenix Mercury goalie Diana Taurasi was still frustrated on Tuesday, four days after she and two teammates had to charter a private plane on Friday night so she could fly back to Arizona from Las Vegas after Game 5 of the semis. -WNBA finals for the birth of her second child.

“We pay for everything,” Taurasi told ESPN. “It’s the WNBA. We’re paying for it.”

She added: “It’s frustrating because there are people out there who would like to help out, and it’s against the CBA rules and that, and I understand that there is a standard to make sure that everything the world is on the same playing field. So thanks to my Russian friends for that. “

Taurasi was referring to her career as a player abroad, including long stints with Russian teams, where she earned a seven-figure annual salary, allowing her to afford to charter a private plane.

Taurasi’s complaints are part of a larger discontent with the WNBA’s philosophy on travel.

The rest of his Mercury teammates returned to Phoenix on a flight that left Las Vegas around 10 a.m. on Saturday. By the time they landed, it was already early afternoon. The Mercury coaching staff spent Saturday cutting tape and preparing for Game 1 of the WNBA Finals against the Chicago Sky on Sunday, meaning the Mercury didn’t have a day of play. training before the final and didn’t start watching a movie until Sunday morning.

“We didn’t even touch the pitch until the final,” Taurasi said. “So, yeah, it’s just disappointing because everyone is tired, but you at least want to be a little prepared. So, I think after being on the pitch [Tuesday], shooting [Wednesday], we will feel better before the game on Wednesday night. “

Taurasi was perhaps more tired than anyone on the pitch on Sunday. His wife, former Mercury star Penny Taylor, gave birth to their daughter, Isla, at 4:24 a.m. on Saturday, capping a whirlwind day for Taurasi.

She had considered returning to Phoenix after Friday night’s game – which the Mercury won to send them to their fifth WNBA final – but opted for the private plane to cut back about three additional hours of travel.

Taylor was already two days past her due date when she was induced on Friday. She went to the hospital before the start of the Mercury match, texting Taurasi until Taurasi was due in court.

Just at the time Taurasi started heating up at the start of the fourth trimester, team president Vince Kozar received two messages – one on WhatsApp, the other via text message – from Taylor, who was watching from his hospital bed. It was the same message: “Don’t worry but it’s starting to happen.”

After the game, as Taurasi prepared for an interview with ESPN, Kozar showed him Taylor’s text. Taurasi rushed into the locker room to take a shower and board the plane with teammates Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins-Smith. They landed at a private airport in North Scottsdale around 11:30 p.m. and at midnight Taurasi said, “We were driving.”

Isla arrived about four hours later.

Taurasi slept in the hospital, located just north of downtown Phoenix, on Friday and Saturday night. She left the hospital at 7:30 a.m. Sunday to return home to shower and get dressed, then headed straight to the Footprint Center for Game 1 of the WNBA Finals.

“It wasn’t ideal for a final game, but we got here and tried to do our best,” Taurasi said of Mercury’s 91-77 loss to Sky. “After going through the movie and seeing things, we can make some adjustments that will help us.”

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