Last night the Phoenix Mercury beat the Connecticut Sun 96-86 in the second round of the WNBA playoffs.
It was a single-elimination game.
And it featured Diana Taurasi.
The 36-year-old legend who many would argue is one of the greatest competitors of all-time. A true GOAT. She dropped 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting to lead Phoenix to the win, but many other exciting things happened as well.
When someone is great — I'm talking Michael Jordan-type of great in terms of competitiveness and their ability to rise to ANY occasion — you don't add fuel to their fire. These types of players will take ANYTHING and EVERYTHING you do and use it as a ridiculous source of power against you and your team.
Last night in the final seconds of the game, Taurasi was seen excessively clapping, shouting and cussing directly at someone on the Sun.
(Now, lets pause for a second. This is nothing new for Taurasi. This is who she is and the type of competitor she has always been given these situations.)
BUT… it did leave the women's basketball world in wonder as to what the hell actually happened?! And those questions only heightened following the game in a post-game interview with Holly Rowe.
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— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 24, 2018
Mistake #1: Courtney Williams posted a photo on Instagram that none of us paid any attention to prior to the game. But clearly Taurasi did (even though she claims to not pay attention to social media and spends very little time involved with it… so someone must have shown her).
Now, this is a great picture, Courtney Williams is insanely good and competitive herself, and she has a right to post cool pictures of herself getting hype next to a GOAT. But, beware and be prepared for the consequence — Taurasi was going to use this photo as motivation to inflict harm on the Connecticut Sun.
Here is another look:
Mistake #2: Jasmine Thomas decided to clap in Taurasi's face. "The Clap" can be a great tool when you're hype and have done something good. It can even get in your opponent's head and make them start talking to themselves. It can cause a weaker-minded opponent to become disoriented and not play as well as they did before.
However, "The Clap" is a NO-NO when used against certain types of people. I'm almost certain it will always result in a zero percent success rate when used against Diana Taurasi.
Mistake #3: Fate allowing this (or the WNBA playoff format decision) to be a single-elimination game against the Mercury. Taurasi was 12-0 in single-elimination situations during her career heading into the game, and she is now 13-0. Not that it's the Connecticut Sun's fault, this was how the season panned out. But I feel I speak for many when I wish this series could have been the best of three.
GOATS (Greatests of All-Time) will find motivation in anything. The way you look, the way you breathe, the way your grandma looks at them in the stands, a social media posts, it doesn't matter. Sometimes people close to a GOAT or a coach, will even come up with fake storylines to tell them before the game to add fuel to their already ridiculously competitive tanks.
All jokes aside. Taurasi is a GOAT and many could say THE GOAT. Had Williams and Thomas not done what they did, Taurasi would have found that added motivation in something completely different. Incredible props to the Connecticut Sun, a team I felt had what it took to go win the whole thing.
The Mercury will now face the No. 1 team, Seattle Storm, in the semifinals of the WNBA Playoffs. The series is best of five and will kick off on Sunday, August 26 at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN 2.
MORE TAURASI: The Scoring Legend