WNBA training camps were scheduled to open Sunday and the NWSL’s OL Reign would have played at Sky Blue’s Red Bull Arena in the second game of their season.
Instead four GOATs chatted for four hours on Saturday night and supplied a bright spot full of headline material for fans stuck at home during the COVID-19 crisis. And thousands tuned in, even past midnight on the east coast.
Power couple Sue Bird of the WNBA’s Seattle Storm and Megan Rapinoe of OL Reign — both U.S. national players — brought Phoenix Mercury’s Diana Taurasi on their “A Touch More” Instagram Live chat. There was also a late appearance by Taurasi’s wife, Penny Taylor, a retired Australian forward for the Mercury. She’s now an assistant coach for the team.
This IG Live may never end.
We’re totally okay with it.
— Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) April 26, 2020
The conversation is coronavirus lockdown gold and deserves a full watch on YouTube. Taurasi shared a story of eating 100 little powdered donuts in the locker room after getting ejected at home and how there are no great defenders, only “professional foulers.” Bird also shared photos of “Baby Fat Ballers” from their early days in the league.
As a guest in the first hour, Bird gave Taurasi rapid-fire questions about the WNBA and NBA.
“Diana always says Steph Curry highlights are just WNBA highlights,” Bird said.
Taurasi answered, “I used to do all that s---.”
Then they stayed on the call, going all night in a fascinating talk about playing in Russia, coaching tactics, who is the best in the WNBA and future plans. Here are some of the best and most-captured moments from the GOATs.
Is Ionescu best of the 2020 draft class?
*Hot Take Alert*
Sabrina Ionescu is one of the most heralded WNBA rookies since ... well, since possibly Taurasi herself. The 2020 No. 1 draft pick of the New York Liberty has been covered closely by national outlets and has a large following thanks to her talent and off-court marketability.
But will she be the best player of the draft class? The deep conversation on college talent and how it translates to the WNBA begins around 3:46:00. (Warning: language)
— Arielle (Ari) Chambers (@ariivory) April 26, 2020
Bird went with Atlanta Dream rookie Chennedy Carter, who was drafted fourth overall out of Texas A&M. Taylor gave the nod to No. 2 pick Satou Sabally, one of Oregon’s three superstars who is off to the Dallas Wings, and got support from Bird. And Taurasi wavers on her choice but goes with Ionescu, a move Bird dubs “politically correct.”
Bird did add that Ionescu would have the “longest” effective career, but gave Carter the nod for being like Cappie Pondexter, a two-time champion with the Mercury and named one of the 15 best players in WNBA history. Carter set the collegiate scoring record against Team USA in November with 34 points.
The group also gave a shoutout to Wings star Arike Ogunbowale, the league’s third-leading scorer as a rookie. Taurasi called out teams for letting her drop to No. 5 after her career at Notre Dame.
Throwing it back to UConn, Geno Auriemma
UConn head coach Geno Auriemma spoke at Taurasi and Taylor’s wedding but there’s no footage of the coach semi-roasting the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer. He also “s--- on the Opals,” the Australian national team that Penny played for, and brought his gold medal to the wedding.
Here’s hoping we see a toast at a Bird-Rapinoe nuptial, even though Bird shot down any talk of speeches.
Auriemma and the Huskies are on a 12-year run of consecutive Final Four appearances, but that seemed in jeopardy this season. Then the NCAA tournament was canceled, which led to the question from Taurasi we’ve all been wondering. (Right?)
“Do you think coach (auriemma) was happy that the (ncaa) tournament didn’t happen” - @DianaTaurasi lmfaooooo we were all thinking it!
— Arielle (Ari) Chambers (@ariivory) April 26, 2020
Paige Bueckers, the No. 1 recruit in the 2020 class, has committed to the school and is viewed by many as the next one to lift them to a title.
Diana and Sue are now talking about Paige Bueckers taking #5 at UConn and are trying to predict how many national titles she’ll win
— Alexa Philippou (@alexaphilippou) April 26, 2020
Taurasi wants to own a team
Taurasi is at the end of her career and what she does next is on the minds of many. The 2009 MVP — though she lists off the other years she should have won for viewers — made no qualms about wanting to be an owner one day.
— Erica L. Ayala (@elindsay08) April 26, 2020
"I'm so disappointed in the women who have a lot of money. ... Where are the women with a lot of money who want to invest in women's basketball?" she said.
Taurasi could own a team and host a TV talk show with her “lemme tell you a story” intros.
‘A Touch More’ taps into fandom
Bird and Rapinoe’s weekly chat draws chatter on social media every week. But this time around it blew up.
— Cindy Brunson (@CindyBrunsonAZ) April 26, 2020
Viewers shared moments on Twitter, but most importantly gushed about how nice it was to hear their stories, see their personalities and get player beef.
Those aspects are commonly seen in men’s sports but not so much in women’s sports. Their four-hour marathon that kept the attention of thousands — even past midnight on the east coast — proves there is a market for such coverage.
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