Mercury star Diana Taurasi rips WNBA for pay disparity in ESPN interview

The 3-time WNBA champion didn't hold back
Posted at 2:22 PM, Jul 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-24 17:22:26-04

During an ESPN interview, Phoenix Mercury star and three-time WNBA champion Diana Taurasi didn't hold back when discussing things she believes are wrong with the WNBA, including player salaries.

Taurasi has split her professional basketball career with the Mercury and several overseas clubs. In 2015, she left the Mercury to commit full-time to Russian club UMMC Ekaterinburg, which paid her significantly more money than the WNBA did.

"We had to go to a communist country to get paid like capitalists, which is so backward to everything that was in the history books in sixth grade," Taurasi told ESPN. "And even then, even within our pay scale, it doesn't make sense. On a team, you could have seven players making the same amount of money. That doesn't make sense to me."

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The maximum veteran salary in the WNBA is $117,500, up $4,000 from a year ago. Meanwhile, the minimum NBA salary is just under $900,000.

"Something's missing. I don't know. I don't know what the solution is," Taurasi told ESPN. "But what's going on now, it's not working. And I use an example of when (Mercury center Brittney Griner) was a rookie, she was walking in this arena, and the janitor was making more money than her. But you want Brittney Griner to be this superstar and carry the league into where? The kid's got to go to Russia for the next 10 years to get paid what she deserves."

After leading Connecticut to three national NCAA championships, Taurasi was selected by the Mercury with the first overall pick in the 2004 WNBA Draft. She's the WNBA's all-time leading scorer. She's also a four-time Olympic gold medalist.

But Taurasi has split her time between the WNBA and overseas clubs in an effort to secure more income, and a number of other WNBA players, including Griner, have done the same. Taurasi played for multiple teams in Russia and Turkey from 2005-17. She is a seven-time Russian National League champion and a six-time Euroleague champion.

The 37-year-old Taurasi has missed most of the 2019 WNBA season after undergoing back surgery in the offseason. Before the season began, she told ABC15 that she believes she has more to prove to herself before her WNBA career comes to an end.

In 2017, Taurasi told ABC15 that the WNBA has work to in terms of marketing its players more effectively.

Taurasi reiterated that opinion during her ESPN interview.

"(The NBA has) made rock stars out of these players. And we just have not been able to capitalize on any of that. Not even a little bit. Not even one bit. Like, are you kidding me with some of the stuff that they do marketing and promoting-wise? It's almost mind-boggling," she said.