Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi has been fined $2,500 for making inappropriate contact with a game official during Game 2 of the WNBA Finals on Wednesday. The fine was announced Thursday night by Bethany Donaphin, head of WNBA league operations.
The incident happened with 5 minutes, 52 seconds remaining in the second quarter of the Mercury's 91-86 win over the Chicago Sky at Phoenix's Footprint Center.
Phoenix's Sophie Cunningham missed a shot and then grabbed the loose-ball rebound after she had fallen to the court. Chicago's Kahleah Copper went to tie up the ball, and her arms wrapped around Cunningham's neck as Copper, too, fell down. Cunningham jerked her arm back, and words appeared to be exchanged, after which Copper got up and stood over Cunningham.
Official Tiara Cruse came in to grab Copper and pull her back, as did Copper's teammate Courtney Vandersloot. Taurasi came running in at the same time and pushed Cruse to get to her teammate Cunningham, who was still on the ground. The official looked at Taurasi and briefly held her back with her arm before allowing Taurasi to help Cunningham up.
The officials reviewed the play, and a common foul was called on Copper. Nothing was called at the time against Taurasi for her contact with the official.
The incident caused considerable commentary on social media Thursday, as fans wondered why Taurasi wasn't called for a technical foul for contact with the official.
The WNBA rulebook states that a player or coach who makes intentional physical contact with an official will automatically be suspended without pay for one game, and that a fine and/or longer period of suspension could result if circumstances so dictate.
Game 3 of the WNBA Finals is Friday at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2.