Mercury celebrate second title in three years

Oct 13, 2009 - 6:13 AM PHOENIX(AP) -- Diana Taurasi knew how to rile up the already raucous crowd of about 1,000, many dressed in orange and purple.

"Personally, in my career, any other championship, nothing can compare, hands down," the WNBA MVP said Monday night at a rally in the entrance to U.S. Airways Center to honor the Phoenix Mercury's second WNBA championships in three years.

Taurasi, the league's leading scorer during the regular season, was named MVP of the finals after scoring 26 points in Game 5, a 94-86 victory for the Mercury on Friday night over Eastern Conference champion Indiana.

The Mercury also needed five games to beat Detroit in 2007.

Taurasi, who won three national championships at Connecticut and two Olympic gold medals, said she got more satisfaction from this title.

"Ten years from now, we're going to go down in history as one of the best teams to ever play basketball," Taurasi told the crowd at the rally on Monday. "And when you play sports that's all you want. No ones going to care about who was MVP."

The team entered on a red carpet that started outside the stadium, lined with fans and then reached a stage, splitting the hundreds sitting and standing with signs and noisemakers in the pavilion of the arena.

Taurasi, who averaged 22.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists in the postseason, carried a large round cardboard penny onto the stage with the No. 13 on one side and a picture of her teammate Penny Taylor on the other.

Taylor had already returned to her native Australia but she was cited as being part of the core along with Taurasi and second-leading scorer Cappie Pondexter that led Phoenix to the two titles.

Coach Corey Gaines called them his "pick-your-poison" trio because if you tried to stop one, one of the others "would kill you."

Taylor, who remained in Australia in 2008 and missed the first half of this season recovering from left ankle surgery, scored 14.3 points and getting 3.4 assists a game in the postseason as the first player off the bench. Taylor hit a pair of crucial free throws in the final minute to help secure the win on Friday, which capped a comeback from being down 2-1 with Game 4 in Indianapolis.

More than one person noted that Taurasi said after the win, when asked what the team needed to do to repeat was to "re-sign Penny Taylor."

Mary Ward, a Phoenix mother of two, said she was a season-ticket holder and brought her daughters to the arena on Monday to show them role models.

"It's something that I want my daughter to look forward to," said Ward, holding a handmade bright orange sign reading, "We Love Our Mercury." "I just wanted to support the Phoenix Mercury. They did a wonderful job and we'll be back next year."

Mercury owner Robert Sarver, who attended several games, including the clincher before driving to Indian Wells, Calif., for the Phoenix Suns' outdoor preseason game with Golden State on Saturday, said the Mercury rejuvenated him by showing commitment and mental toughness when facing elimination and teamwork.

"These are all things you don't see often in sports, or in business, you guys deserve this championship," Sarver said.

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