The Mercury’s match against the Storm, the third of the season, wasn’t one for the ages in terms of competitiveness. For all their supposed lack of fight in the wake of All-Star Britney Griner’s absence, they managed to carve an outcome that mirrored that of the first two against the bona fide contenders. The first three quarters were close, but the last was a blowout — if nothing else indicative of the fact that they obviously have their longtime rivals’ number, their relative lack of talent notwithstanding.
Indeed, the set-to over the weekend held historical significance because all-time greats Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird met for a record-tying 46th and final time. The career points leader and the career assists leader, close friends off the court, epitomized the best of the Women’s National Basketball Association. And, all things considered, their impending exit from the sport’s grandest stage on the distaff side figures to create a void not even the likes of Brianna Stewart, Jewell Loyd, and Skykar Diggins-Smith — fellow marquee names who also burned rubber — can fill right away.
In the aftermath of the encounter, Taurasi and Bird met members of the media together. As unusual as the sight may have been, though, all and sundry thought the development apt, as much for the moment as for posterity. They were certainly at ease side by side, one perhaps happier than the other given the immediate past outcome. In the course of their presser, nothing else other than their shared history mattered, and rightly so. Their paths first crossed way back when they claimed titles for the University of Connecticut, and they’ve kept winning since then.
There will be more games for Taurasi and Bird, just no longer against each other. The latter hopes to make a spirited run for the hardware off a strong finishing kick in the regular season. The loss to the Mercury will sting, but the Storm are still in the thick of things — certainly because they just so happen to have the league’s greatest point guard of all time on tap. Meanwhile, the farewell tour goes on.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.