July 22nd, 2022 was a night to remember in downtown Phoenix.
‘The Greatest Duo’ had what might’ve been their final dance, a Sun Devil great returned, and plenty of motivation fueled this latest chapter of Mercury versus Storm.
The two names synonymous with those franchises happen to be best friends – Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird.
“Every time we play Seattle it feels like there’s 15,000 in the building,” Taurasi said. “There are so many competitors on each side that know each other.”
“I think of this as another game in the story of our WNBA ‘rivalry,'” Bird said. “I think of it more as a celebration.”
As much as they’re used to the spotlight and appreciate the love, it’s about taking care of business, especially in what might’ve been each of their last chance at bragging rights.
The Mercury gifted Bird with custom Jordan’s and honored former Phoenix player in Arizona State’s Briann January.
“Without that time at ASU and figuring out who I was and figuring out how deep I could push myself and what I had,” January said. “It really is one of the things that’s gotten me to this point.”
What was January’s final regular season game in Arizona, was Tina Charles’ first since leaving Phoenix for Seattle.
With Charles starting for the first time in her stint with the Storm, both squads had something to prove.
“They were very, very locked in,” Mercury head coach Vanessa Nygaard said. “There were a lot of stories in the game. I think the biggest story probably for them being Tina. That motivated them tonight.”
While it stayed close for most of the game, the Mercury, backed by over 14,000 fans and a combined 63 points from Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith, went on a dominant fourth quarter run to win decisively, 94-78.
It was DT’s 500th career game, second all-time behind Bird.
As another chapter ends for ‘The Greatest Duo,’ their impact on the game will be felt forever.
“We’re just proof that if you really invest in yourself in that way, believe in yourself in that way, you can achieve what it is you set out to do,” Bird said. “That’s hopefully part of our legacy. Being yourself and going out there and playing.”