When the Mercury take the court in Phoenix on Thursday against Seattle, it could be the last time that Penny Taylor plays in front of her home crowd. The Australian-mainstay of the Mercury franchise is retiring this year after the conclusion of her 13th WNBA season, 10 of which were spent in Arizona.
The Mercury will host a formal retirement ceremony in 2017, but Thursday’s festivities (complete with fan placards and video features in Taylor’s honor) will give fans the opportunity to simply say thank you. Tickets for the game against the Storm can be purchased here.
When Taylor arrived in the Valley of the Sun prior to the 2004 season from the Cleveland dispersal draft, it would have been impossible to predict the kind of impact that she would have on the team’s future.
Three WNBA championships, two Olympic silver medals, two All-WNBA First Team honors, a 2006 World Championship gold medal and MVP award later, and even the loftiest of predictions were surpassed with a tenacity that Taylor embodied during her days in Phoenix.
It’s tough for fanbases to watch players like Taylor hang up the high tops. As the team said in the release that announced her 2016 return, if Diana Taurasi is the franchise’s heart, Taylor is the soul.
It means the end to an era for the league as well. As new talent continues to join the league, greats like Taylor and Tamika Catchings make one final run at another title.
Taylor and Catchings were both drafted in the first round of the 2001 WNBA Draft, both are the last players from that draft class to retire from the league, and both are undoubtedly deserving of induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
But while the Hall of Fame may await, there is still some unfinished business for the Melbourne native before she calls it quits.
The 35-year-old Taylor is averaging 12.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game this season and each of those averages are their highest since 2011. It doesn’t seem like she’s ready to go quietly into retirement just yet.
With three games remaining in the regular season, the Mercury can clinch the final playoff spot with a win in Los Angeles or a loss by the Washington Mystics on Tuesday. While Phoenix might have to take the show on the road to start the 2016 WNBA Playoffs, there’s no question that Taylor will leave everything on the court.
Taylor will remind us all one last time why she’ll be remembered as one the best to play the game, and Thursday at Talking Stick Resort Arena, the fans will have another opportunity to say thank you.