Out 4 Redemption

By Alex Chambers, June 2016 Issue.

Back on Feb. 26, 2015, I left you all with this quote: “Phoenix Mercury fans need to have faith. Taurasi will return.”

As promised, she’s back at the helm of the Mercury this season in her quest for a fourth championship. However, getting to that championship could look a bit different this year.

In years past, the Mercury played the regular season to get seeded for the playoffs; this was calculated against other Western conference teams. Then, the Mercury would enter the playoffs to play the best of the Western conference, and if successful, would advance to the Finals to square off against an Eastern conference team. That is the way the post season has functioned since the leagues inception in 1997; however, in this past off-season, the league had some new ideas.

For the 2016 season, the top eight teams will qualify for the playoffs. That’s the top eight teams in the entire league – conference is no longer a factor. Also, now there are four rounds in the playoffs as opposed to three. The first and second rounds are single elimination. So, each team in the first and second around has one shot to stay alive in the post-season. Now, both the semi-finals (which used to be only three games), as well as the Finals, feature a best-of-five format.

What does this all mean? Well, the Mercury will need to fight hard all season against the entire league, not just the Western conference. The higher they rank, the higher they’ll get seeded, which increases the team’s chances of making it to the Finals. If the team gets ranked between 5th and 8th overall, they’ll have one chance to keep their post-season dreams alive. So, this season, no games are a “given” – every win counts.

Without a doubt, the Mercury has an uphill battle to fight this year. For a team that thrives on adversity and challenge, that is actually good news. Even more good news is the starting set that brought home the championship trophy in 2014 – DeWanna Bonner, Penny Taylor, Candice Dupree and Brittney Griner – will be joining Taurasi in the teams quest for a fourth championship.

Candice Dupree. Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images.

Keep in mind that the only team in WNBA history to claim four championships is the now defunct, yet legendary, Houston Comets. From 1997 to 2000, Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson reigned supreme and shut out all competition to establish the WNBA’s first dynasty by winning four back-to-back titles.

Does the Mercury have a chance to win a fourth championship title and become the league’s next dynasty? There are five reasons to believe the answer is yes: the five starting players that led the team to the record setting 29-5 season in 2014 who will be back on the court this season.

5. Candice Dupree

With the smoothest shot in the league and moves like a ninja, Dupree can make the bucket before the other team even knows what happening. Dupree shot 75 percent during the Finals in 2014, proving that in the most important games, she is the dependable player you want at the ready. In a 2016 season, where every game counts, the Mercury is fortunate to have Dupree as a weapon in their arsenal.


Penny Taylor. Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images.

4. Penny Taylor

Following Taurasi’s lead, Taylor took 2015 off, but is now back for 2016. This tough-as-nails Aussie was a member of the squad that brought home the trophy in 2007, 2009 and 2014. With this type of championship experience, her veteran skills will be much appreciated this season. Combine that with her uncanny ability to bring out the best in the other members of her team, and you’ve got a recipe for victory.


3. DeWanna Bonner

DeWanna Bonner. Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images.

As a player who started coming off the bench when she joined the Mercury in 2009, Bonner quickly earned her place in the starting five – and for good reason. This three-time sixth woman of the year knows how to step up when she is needed.

In 2012, when the team was plagued with injuries, Bonner led the Western conference in scoring with 20.6 points per game, and became a shining star in the Mercury lineup during a rather dismal season for the team as a whole.


2. Brittney Griner

Brittney Griner. Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images.

The dominant defense Griner brings to the paint will once again plague visiting teams. As a two- time defensive player of the year, Griner will be protecting the rim and keeping competitors at bay when she’s not going up for a dunk – something Phoenix fans have become quite accustomed to since she was drafted No. 1 overall in 2013. Heading in to her fourth season, the young player is hungry for another championship and will be instrumental in bringing home another trophy.


1. Diana Taurasi

Diana Taurasi. Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images.

Last, but certainly not least, is Taurasi. The prodigal player who everyone missed last season will be back on the court and ready to play. Leaving the cold winds of Russia behind her, Taurasi comes home to the Valley of the Sun in search of the one thing that has driven her for her entire career: victory. No matter if it is a familiar rival or a new foe that stands between her and a fourth title, Taurasi will bring the skill, fight and grit that Phoenix fans have come to know and love.

Because the final roster has not been set, the remainder of the team is still unclear. One thing that is certain, the Phoenix Mercury is on the cusp of becoming the second dynasty team in the WNBA, and with the talent of their starting line-up, their chances are better than ever.

For more on Mercury stars Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner, as they prepare to join Team USA for the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, click here.

Keep readingShow less
WhistlePig + Alfa Romeo F1

SHOREHAM, VT (September 13, 2023) — WhistlePig Whiskey, the leaders in independent craft whiskey, and Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake are waving the checkered flag on a legend-worthy release that’s taking whiskey to G-Force levels. The Limited Edition PiggyBack Legends Series: Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is a high Rye Whiskey selected by the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake drivers, with barrels trialed in their wind tunnel to ensure a thrilling taste in every sip.

The third iteration in WhistlePig’s Single Barrel PiggyBack Legends Series, the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is bottled at 96.77 proof, a nod to Valtteri Bottas’ racing number, 77, and the precision of racing. Inspired by Zhou Guanyu, the first Chinese F1 driver, this Rye Whiskey is finished with lychee and oolong tea. Herbal and floral notes of the oolong tea complement the herbaceous notes of WhistlePig’s signature PiggyBack 100% Rye, rounded out with a juicy tropical fruit finish and a touch of spice.

Keep readingShow less
by Spectrum Medical Care Center

Nurse Practitioner Ari Kravitz

When I started medical transition at 20 years old, it was very difficult to get the care I needed for hormone replacement therapy because there are very few providers trained in starting hormones for trans people, even though it’s very similar to the hormones that we prescribe to women in menopause or cisgender men with low testosterone.

I hope more providers get trained in LGBTQ+ healthcare, so they can support patients along their individual gender journey, and provide the info needed to make informed decisions about their body. I’ve personally seen my trans patients find hope and experience a better quality of life through hormone replacement therapy.

Keep readingShow less

Descanso Resort swimming pool and lounge area

Descanso Resort, Palm Springs' premier destination for gay men, just received Tripadvisor's highest honor, a Travelers' Choice "Best of the Best" award for 2023. Based on guests' reviews and ratings, fewer than 1% of Tripadvisor's 8 million listings around the world receive the coveted "Best of the Best" designation. Descanso ranked 12th in the top 25 small inns and hotels category in the United States. Quite an accomplishment!

Open less than two years, Descanso Resort offers gay men a relaxing and luxurious boutique hotel experience just minutes away from Palm Springs' buzziest restaurants, nightclubs, and shopping. Descanso has quickly established itself as a top destination for sophisticated gay travelers, earning hundreds of 5-star guest reviews and consistently ranking in Trapadvisor's top positions alongside brother properties Santiago Resort and Twin Palms Resort.

Keep readingShow less