The day she’ll probably be named to the WNBA’s All-Star game, released blood tests showed Phoenix star Diana Taurasi was driving her 2006 Land Rover with a blood-alcohol level of 0.17 percent — more than twice the Arizona legal limit of 0.08 percent.
Taurasi pled “not guilty” to the charge, also cited for speeding. Her court date is July 22, where she could face up to 30 days in jail. The All-Star game is July 25.
Taurasi (pictured right by the Hartford Courant) was driving from a club just outside downtown to the Phoenician Resort, where the Storm were staying. Phoenix defeated Seattle 93-81 on July 1 and Taurasi is close with several players on the Storm roster.
But when questioned, C Ashley Robinson said, “I don’t want to talk about nothing that has to do with Diana Taurasi.” PF Lauren Jackson said, “I wasn’t there, so…Diana is very close to my heart and she made one bad decision and it cost her dearly. But I’ll support her through anything.”
PG Sue Bird, who has hung out with Taurasi after games in the past, had no comment about who she was with the wee hours of July 2, following the game. Bird and F Swin Cash, who does not drink, played with Taurasi at Connecticut.
“We’re actually not supposed to talk about,” Bird said when ask recently if she was with Taurasi, a report said the Mercury sharpshooter was released to friends and friends followed in cars behind her vehicle. “It’s a pending investigation. We all know the severity of it. Diana’s quotes pretty much hit it on the head. It’s a very serious issue and I know it’s one that she’s going to look at as a mistake for a very long time.
“It’s a very serious thing, not one to take lightly. At the same time, she’s one of my closest friends. I want to support her and our conversations have been, at first, ‘Are you OK?’ You want to move on and learn and hopefully not repeat it.”
Taurasi said she was embarrassed by her actions and needed to make things straight. She’s been on a tear playing-wise, apparently using the basketball court as refuge as Phoenix collected a four-game win streak. A new face in Milk ads, she’s averaging 19.5 points for the West-leading Phoenix during the stretch that began with a win against Seattle.
A spokesman for the WNBA said it wasn’t known whether the league would release a statement about Taurasi’s future. Detroit C Kara Braxton was suspended for both of her DUI convictions. Taurasi still hasn’t been convicted of anything.
It’s a tough position. The league pushes its players daily as “role models” for the youth. The players are strong women going against the odds to play a game they love and should be admired. But with the tag comes scrutiny. Braxton, a one-time All-Star and multiple WNBA champion, isn’t a face of the league. Taurasi is.
It’s understandable the league would want to protect one of its hottest properties, but I still believe Taurasi has to be suspended at some point. As a role model, it needs to be clear this behavior is unacceptable.
“It’s your responsibility as a player and as a coach to be responsible and respectful to the community,” Detroit coach Rick Mahorn said today. “Professional athletes are human beings first. We make sure our players take care of their personal problems and make sure it doesn’t come into the locker. We respect Kara as long as she abides by what she has to do as far as her protocol in making sure she represents this league as well as herself.”