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Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi was fined $2,500 after she shoved an official in the back in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals on Wednesday night, the league announced Thursday.
Taurasi was not suspended for the incident, and will be available for Game 3 of the series.
Midway through the fourth quarter Wednesday night, Taurasi ran in and shoved an official after Phoenix’s Sophie Cunningham and Chicago’s Kahleah Copper were fighting for a rebound under the basket. The official, after the play had been called dead, ran in to separate the two and ended up standing over Cunningham.
Taurasi suddenly ran in and pushed the official multiple times.
Sophie Cunningham and Kahleah Copper fighting for a rebound after Cunningham missed a layup pic.twitter.com/sk4vOcj0W8
— Internet #BlackLivesMatter (@cjzero) October 14, 2021
The play wasn’t reviewed, and the game carried on.
Taurasi finished with a team-high 20 points in the Mercury’s 91-86 overtime win at the Footprint Center, which tied the series up 1-1.
Taurasi: 'I didn't even know it was a ref'
Taurasi was asked about the incident on Friday ahead of Game 3 of the series, and said she didn't realize that the official she shoved was an official.
"I didn't even know it was a ref," Taurasi said, via ESPN. "I just saw legs on top of Sophie [Cunningham] and was trying to get everyone off Sophie."
Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello had a similar explanation, too.
"Diana went in to help her teammate," Brondello said, via ESPN. "That's what you do, don't you, in heated moments like that? I don't even think she knew it was the referee. It's not intentional. She felt like Sophie needed help."
As for the calls for Taurasi to be suspended, well, Taurasi blamed social media.
"When Twitter speaks, the league has to make a decision," she said. "They reviewed it [during the game], and they didn't call anything. I wasn't even in the scuffle."
Should Diana Taurasi have been ejected, suspended?
Based on the WNBA rulebook and previous similar encounters, it looks as if Taurasi got off easy.
WNBA rules state that “intentional physical contact with an official” results in an automatic one-game suspension without pay. Though that’s the exact wording the league used in its statement announcing Taurasi’s fine, she was not suspended.
Many on social media were quick to compare Taurasi’s shove with one that occurred at the end of the 2019 season with Sky forward Astou Ndour.
Ndour was ejected from Chicago's season finale against the Washington Mystics after she made contact with an official, though that was later rescinded by the league. Ndour was trying to get the official’s attention, and she appeared to make incidental contact with him which caused him to fly back and eject her on the spot.
— bailey caldwell (@sir_richmond20) October 14, 2021
Clearly, the two encounters are different.
Either way, Taurasi will pay her fine and carry on.