Outlasting all of their contemporaries and even, improbably, some stars from the next generation, Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird plan to chase another title with the L.A. Sparks.
Diana Taurasi leaned back in her chair, the self-assured manner familiar to multiple generations of WNBA reporters, as consistent as her 3-point shot here in her fifth decade of life on earth, and considered, then dismissed, the idea of retirement once again.
“Well shit, they can come and get me when they’ve got someone better,” Taurasi said. And few could argue with the results over the last two season -- another WNBA championship on her resume in 2029 and a late playoff exit at the hands of the eventual champion New York Liberty this summer. “I’ve been asked again and again if I’ll ever stop playing basketball. Not unless I have to.”
It’s been a most improbable decade for Taurasi, who began it with the Phoenix Mercury, teamed up with Skylar Diggins Smith, and as all of America knows, reunited with her UConn and USA Basketball backcourt mate, Sue Bird, for the last two years of the 2020s in Los Angeles.
Part of this connection comes from the lifelong friendship between the pair, with only Taurasi and Bird fully understanding what it means to command the basketball court like no other pair of guards and to do it at a time that AARP membership is just around the corner. Taurasi, when her game-clinching basket put the Sparks ahead of Paige Bueckers’ Minnesota Lynx to stay in the final minute of the 2029 WNBA Finals, was 47 years old, with well over 2,000 made 3s in her WNBA career.
Even so, she likes to remind reporters at every opportunity, she is the “youth movement” of the Los Angeles backcourt: Bird is set to celebrate — though perhaps celebrate is the wrong word — her 50th birthday this coming year, a 2030 that continues the partnership of the iconic pair.
For those with short memories, let’s recall the sequence of events that led to this most improbable of WNBA stories. After collecting her eighth title (and Breanna Stewart won her sixth) in 2028, the Seattle Storm as we knew them broke up. Stewart, at age 34, was enticed to come back to Connecticut and replace her retiring coach, Geno Auriemma, who’d collected 15 national titles, the last four thanks to Bueckers and, starting in 2022, Azzi Fudd. Someday, Bueckers and Fudd would like to start in the USA Basketball backcourt, though that honor is still owned by Taurasi and Bird.
With Stewart now patrolling the sidelines, the easy call for Bird to make was to join her wife, Megan Rapinoe, back in California. After all, Rapinoe couldn’t as easily come see Bird on the Seattle sidelines, not as she was busy running the state after getting elected in 2026.
Governor Rapinoe was merely one of the dignitaries on hand for an epic 2029 season-opener, watching Bird and the forever California kid Taurasi return to play home games in the sold-out Staples Center.
“It is truly an honor to welcome all these powerful women to start the 2029 season, not just the one I married,” Rapinoe said at midcourt ahead of the opening tip. Then, channeling her famous 2026 campaign slogan — one many feel sure she’ll resurrect in the 2032 Democratic primaries, running for the top job in the land, she added: “Every single one of these heroes is… True to Herself.”
That Taurasi’s quick release, Bird’s ability to pinpoint pass to her teammates, the pair as unstoppable as a counterpoint to the powerful Sparks big Aliyah Boston channeling Lisa Leslie inside, made the Sparks’ run to the title as unsurprising, even as the fact of Taurasi and Bird’s longevity was itself a shock.
But these were not mere veterans turning it on in the playoffs. Los Angeles finished 37-5 in 2029. Bird and Taurasi never took a game off.
“For me, it comes down to a year-by-year process,” Bird said from that podium, the 2029 WNBA trophy in front of her, about the decision to keep playing, as Taurasi made assorted jokes about her now silver-haired friend of over three decades on a joyous WNBA Finals postgame podium. “Every year I see if I’ve got one more season in me. So far, that answer keeps coming back as yes.”
What the next decade holds is hard to say. The Sparks finished with another 30-win season but weren't nearly as dominant. In the playoffs, Sabrina Ionescu was too much, getting pretty much anything she wanted off the dribble. Both Taurasi and Bird are so far past the typical endpoint for an athletic career that assuming they are close to hanging up their sneakers is no longer a tenable thing. Taurasi likes to shout “We’re great for eight” at any of her potential rivals for a USA Basketball starting backcourt spot during WNBA games, a reference to the eighth gold medal she and Bird intend to win in 2032.
Both Taurasi and Bird play on one-year deals, though, and the two might face some tough decisions if Bird’s wife makes another work-related move: to Washington DC in 2033.
“That’s the only court I might leave basketball for,” Taurasi said. “If the Governor wants me to serve on the Supreme Court, I’m willing to consider it.”