Taurasi's kiss a telltale sign?

So, is Diana Taurasi's kiss on your list of the best things in the WNBA's Western Conference finals? Funny thing is, it might be for fans of both teams involved.

For the Phoenix faithful who adore everything about DT, this was Diana being irrepressibly and unapologetically Diana. And if Game 2 of the series is anything like Thursday's opener -- an 85-62 shellacking by Minnesota -- the kiss may be about the only chuckle the Mercury fans get out of facing the Lynx, who now have defeated Phoenix 13 consecutive times.

Minnesota fans, by contrast, might savor the pucker for a different reason: Perhaps Phoenix's 2013 fate has, in fact, been sealed with a kiss. Taurasi's cheeky smooch on Lynx star Seimone Augustus in the fourth quarter might be the kiss from a rose on the grave of the Mercury's season.

Even if the Mercury are somehow able to snap Minnesota's mastery of them Sunday when they meet in Phoenix, they still have to return to Minneapolis. The Target Center crowd might wave "Kiss My Grits!" signs at Taurasi, and help spur their Lynx on to a third consecutive appearance in the WNBA Finals.

If you missed it, we'll recap. Taurasi and Augustus have known each other since their early teens, and have been both teammates and foes in the WNBA, in overseas leagues and internationally.

Taurasi was the No. 1 draft pick out of UConn in 2004; Augustus was the top selection out of LSU in 2006. Taurasi is trying to win her third WNBA title, Augustus her second.

Late in Thursday's game, top-seeded Minnesota was throttling No. 3 seed Phoenix. Augustus was guarding Taurasi, and there was pushing and posturing. Practically nose-to-nose, neither would give way. And then … Taurasi planted a peck on Augustus' cheek.

Who in the WNBA would do this, besides Taurasi? Uh, nobody. Does she plot out things like this or her multitude of technical fouls this season? Is it all part of the smack-talking, head-games strategy she uses in Jordan-like fashion to get the upper hand -- especially if her team doesn't have the upper hand?

I think, yes and no. Phoenix fans will see this as Taurasi intentionally trying to take the edge off a dispiriting loss, which she definitely is adept at doing. As long as her team still has life, Taurasi always looks for ways to perk up her teammates and send the message that everything is going to turn out OK.

That said, this was a spur-of-the-moment pucker, a reflection that Taurasi just has that inner smart-aleck that is her default reaction to virtually everything.

You know those "Messin' with Sasquatch" commercials? Where people see the large, monstrous figure and their first thought is, "How can I punk him?" That's a bit like Taurasi in real life; she's just sort of a natural at merry mischief. Her "wild side" is always there, not far under the surface.

The difference is, the dim-witted pranksters in those advertisements are immediately sorry, because Sasquatch does not like to be messed with. They suffer quick -- and usually painful -- retribution. Taurasi is far more clever: She'd still dump a bucket of water on Big Foot's head, but get him to crack up about it.

Taurasi always has done a lot of wiseacre jabbering. Let's put it this way, if she'd been playing Bobby Riggs in the "Battle of the Sexes," it couldn't have been limited to one match. With that many quips, it would have been a mini-series.

But even Taurasi's harshest critics would have to admit the only thing bigger than her chatter is her trophy case. She has three NCAA championships and three Olympic gold medals, along with the two WNBA titles. She had another MVP-caliber season this year in the WNBA. Her combination of talent, wit, personality, fearlessness -- and even a little recklessness -- makes her one of a kind.

I was talking to her coach at UConn, Geno Auriemma, earlier this week. He mentioned the story of how while recruiting Taurasi, he told her she should come to UConn and wear No. 3, because she was going to be "the Babe Ruth of women's basketball."

Well, as we know, the Babe was no shrinking violet, either, and he could back up his boasts. Swagger is a part of sports success, although not every star shows it the same way.

Take Sue Bird, Taurasi's longtime friend, and teammate at UConn and on the U.S. national team. Bird's swagger is more Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera style: dignified, always the coolest kid in class. Bird would no more plant a kiss on an opponent's cheek than she would show up at the ESPN studios wearing a Bjork swan dress and faking an Icelandic accent.

But it just seemed perfect that Bird -- who knows Taurasi as well as anyone -- would indeed have been in the studio Thursday to wryly comment on DT adding the kiss to "her repertoire."

And what of the recipient, Augustus? Taurasi kissed a girl, and the girl didn't like it; initially, anyway, Augustus was understandably a bit irritated.

But then she smiled, slapped hands with Taurasi, and later joked about their "tango dance." Augustus is nobody's fool. She's seen her share of DT hijinks and understands the best way to counter them is to laugh along. Augustus is well aware whose team has been dominating this matchup, and she handled this with an expert sense of humor.

"She just wanted some of my deliciousness," Augustus said afterward, in a video clip made even funnier because Lynx teammate/world-class poker face Lindsay Whalen, sitting next to her, never changed expression.

Ultimately, the Lynx know this: They keep playing the way they did Thursday (and for most of this season), and they'll be the ones kissing the WNBA championship trophy.