On this day in Latinx history: Diana Taurasi becomes first Latina to earn WNBA Finals MVP honors
Former UConn star leads Mercury to the title in five games in 2009
As confetti began to pour from the ceiling of US Airways Center, Diana Taurasi stood on her Phoenix Mercury’s home floor with the WNBA Finals trophy in one hand and the WNBA Finals’ MVP award firmly in the other.
For the second time in her career, Taurasi had to play a five-game series in the championship round. In 2007, when the Mercury defeated the Detroit Shock for their first title, Cappie Pondexter was awarded the Finals MVP trophy.
Two years later, after being named the regular-season MVP and scoring 26 points in Phoenix’s 94-86 victory against the Indiana Fever in Game 5 of the WNBA Finals, Taurasi took home the honor on Oct. 8, 2009.
Taurasi led the league in scoring, 20.4 points per game, for the third time in four seasons. The daughter of an Italian father and Argentinian mother, the then 27-year-old became the first Latina to earn the Finals MVP.
“The series itself showed where women’s basketball is right now,” Taurasi told The New York Times. “It’s at a really high level of play and of commitment from a lot of people.”
A three-time NCAA champion while at UConn and two-time Olympic gold medalist, Taurasi delivered Phoenix its second title in three years. In Game 5, Taurasi turned a seven-point deficit into a nine-point halftime lead for the Mercury thanks to 13 of her game-high 26 points coming in the second quarter.
At one point in the game, Taurasi dropped six straight buckets, went 4-of-7 from behind the arc and was 8-of-8 from the free-throw line, which sent the sellout crowd into a frenzy. She also had 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks.
In Game 1, Taurasi finished with 22 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists. The next game she had 20 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks. In Game 3, Taurasi scored 18 points, while she finished with 16 in Game 4.