In Defense of Diana Taurasi
Why the allegations against her don’t add up.
By Ben York / @bjyork
This past summer, I took a road-trip to Seattle and Los Angeles with the Phoenix Mercury for a SLAMonline article. My main focus was to get the inside scoop on what life is like on the road for WNBA players and how vastly different it is than the NBA. And while I did obtain the intricate details of planning for away games, practices on the road, and traveling with the general public something much more meaningful happened.
I witnessed what true love of the game of basketball really is, personified through Diana Taurasi.
Our first stop was to play the Seattle Storm. When we landed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, we blended in with the thousands of other travelers that day and made our way down to baggage claim. Afterwards, as we were heading to the team bus, I was checking emails on my phone and ran into a National Car Rental display sign, knocking the entire display over in a loud, awkward way. Of course, the entire Phoenix Mercury team was right behind me and saw the embarrassing encounter.
“Oh, Yorkie, what the hell are you doing?” Diana Taurasi said while laughing hysterically. “You must not be a National fan – more of a Hertz guy, eh?”
She then pat me on the back and talked to me about my article on the way to bus.
Anyone who knows Diana Taurasi on a personal basis has a hundred endearing stories like these. That’s just who Diana is.
However, in light of the recent developments regarding Taurasi testing positive for Modafinil, a banned substance, it is becoming increasingly clear that traditional media wants to cause and create controversy. The tone of nearly every article or report is one of condemnation and disapproval with a hint of condescension.
Proven facts are being ignored:
- Her ‘A’ sample was “leaked” before following proper protocol in accordance with the World Anti-Doping Agency guidelines.
- Modafinil wouldn’t help or enhance the way she plays the game. In fact, it probably had an adverse affect on her basketball ability.
- The test could have been a false-positive.
- Her ‘B’ sample hasn’t been tested.
- We know very little about the accusations.
The problem I have with this is two-fold.
1. The damage is already done.
There is no denying what Diana Taurasi has accomplished for women’s basketball. She has inspired a generation of young women to have confidence and a belief in themselves no matter what the general public thinks or says about their game. Her enthusiasm and competitiveness has transcended women’s basketball and become legendary – that much is known.
Sadly, if/when she is proven innocent, there is a chance none of the aforementioned contributions will matter. People, especially those who denounce the league already, will have already made the choice to believe what best suits them and their personal interests. Taurasi can be a polarizing figure for women’s basketball fans. The vast majority of basketball fans love her dominant game and passion. Still, there are others who don’t appreciate her intensity and are vehemently “out to get her.” This supposed incident will provide them with more fuel.
2. Her status as a role model.
Just so I can be as clear as possible, I consider Diana Taurasi to be the quintessential role model for young women everywhere. Like any human being, she has made mistakes. But if I were raising a daughter, Diana Taurasi would be at the top of my list of inspirational figures to steer her towards. She is one of the most humble and appreciative people you’ll ever meet, is team-driven and goal-oriented, and treats people with respect and dignity. Most importantly, when she does make a mistake, she handles and addresses it with the utmost grace and humility.
What better example could I provide for my kids? My feelings don’t change one bit with the recent allegations.
As a society, we’ve become obsessed with judging others. If you look at the facts in Taurasi’s case, there are an enormous amount of vital details we are missing and the ones we do have sound iffy at best. Before you turn your back on Taurasi and persecute her, stop and think for a minute. What do I really know about the allegations? What has been proven? Remember, basketball overseas can be a shady business….
Some will say I’m biased writing this article. I am. It’s the exact reason I decided to speak out in her defense. There comes a time when you need to put aside being politically correct and stand up for injustice. Diana Taurasi is one of the best things that has ever happened to women’s basketball and is someone the league needs in order to continue to thrive.
Would it help if I told you about the Diana Taurasi I know?
The Diana I know is the one who acknowledges every member, employee, and passerby of the arena staff with a smile at each practice and game. The Diana I know is the one who deflects credit and takes the blame at all times; just as a leader should do. The Diana I know is the one who is appreciative of everything she has worked for and those who have helped her along the way. The Diana I know is the one who talked extensively with me about books like “The Four Agreements” and “The Mastery of Love.” The Diana I know is the one who has inspired millions of young girls everywhere to follow their dreams.
The Diana I know is the one who will face this adversity head-on with integrity and class…and come through it stronger than ever.