I regret going to bed early Tuesday night.
I hoped that Game 2 of the semifinals between the Seattle Storm and Phoenix Mercury would be enough to keep me up, but Diana Taurasi had only eight points and Phoenix trailed by 12. To end the half, Sue Bird hit a layup and teased Taurasi as they walked off the court. It felt over. So I went to bed.
In middle school, I used to watch the 2003 Final Four game between UConn and Texas almost every morning. UConn trailed by nine with 12 minutes left in the second half -- a game no one expected them to be in after the graduation of superstars Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Tamika Williams and Asjha Jones -- who all were selected in the first round of the 2002 WNBA draft. Taurasi was 1-6 in the second half before UConn started to claw back.
And with 2:07 left on the clock, Taurasi came around a double screen to hit a 3-pointer. Connecticut advanced and won their second of three consecutive championships.
So, of all people, I should have known better about going to bed early. And then I woke up Wednesday morning to the news that Taurasi hit two late 3-point shots to force overtime after Phoenix trailed by 17 with 6:11 to go. The Mercury led in overtime until Bird managed to get to the rim for a layup.
All I could do was kick myself. Because, of course, Taurasi hit an insane amount of shots to force overtime and nearly stole Game 2 from Seattle. Of course, it was Bird who gave the Storm the win.
Of course, it was one of the greatest games of the year. It doesn't matter if Taurasi isn't playing well at certain moments or if her team is down, she is always a threat to win her team the game.
And I missed it because I was tired? What a dumb excuse. I'm reminded of the time when I was coaching a middle school girls' basketball team at a small Catholic school in Minnesota. It was 2011. I assigned homework to my players and told them to look up some Diana Taurasi highlights on YouTube.
One of them looked at me and asked, "Who's that?" I wasn't sure how to answer that question. It was like someone asking me who Michael Jordan was. How does a girl playing basketball not know who Diana Taurasi is? How does anyone not know who she is? It's so easy to dismiss greatness of athletes when they're women. It's easy to qualify accomplishments of an athlete of Taurasi's caliber because she plays in the WNBA. She is one of the best basketball players.
At 36, she is playing some of the best basketball of her career and that is after over a decade of playing year round. Even when she loses, Diana Taurasi is amazing. Every time she is on a basketball court, she does something memorable. She is the single most captivating player I have ever witnessed. Her ability to impose her will on a series of moments over such a long career is unparalleled.
Yet, I allowed myself to forget that at the precise moment when her greatness matters the most. I'm sure other people have forgotten as well. They've turned off their televisions -- or worse, never turned them on. And this is the tragedy of Taurasi's thrilling performances: far too many people are missing them.
Don't be one of those people. Pay attention and stay up late.