Mercury’s Diana Taurasi says she was unaware she pushed an official during the brawl in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals


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Mercury's Diana Taurasi says she was unaware she pushed an official during the brawl in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals

CHICAGO – Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi said Friday that she initially did not realize that the person who pushed in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals against Chicago Sky was a referee.

Taurasi, speaking before Game 3 at the Wintrust Arena, said she first realized there was a problem when her teammate Shey Peddy told her Thursday morning that she had become trending on social media.

When he watched the replay, Taurasi said what he thought about the league, “Oh yeah, they’ll probably do something.” Bethany Donaphin, the WNBA’s chief operating officer, ended up fining Taurasi $ 2,500 for making inappropriate contact with a game official.

The incident occurred with 5 minutes, 52 seconds remaining in the second quarter of Mercury’s 91-86 victory over Sky at the Phoenix Footprint Center on Wednesday. Phoenix’s Sophie Cunningham missed a shot and then caught a fumble rebound after landing on the floor. Chicago’s Kahleah Copper went to catch the ball, and her arms wrapped around Cunningham’s neck as Copper went down as well.

Cunningham jerked his arm away roughly, and they seemed to exchange words, after which Copper got up and stood over Cunningham. Officer Tiara Cruse came to grab Copper to remove her, as did Copper’s partner, Courtney Vandersloot. Taurasi came running at the same time and pushed Cruse to get to Cunningham, who was still on the ground. The officer glanced at Taurasi and briefly restrained her with her arm, allowing her to help Cunningham up.

Officials reviewed the play, and a common foul was charged against Copper. At that time, nothing was charged against Taurasi for his contact with the officer.

“I didn’t even know she was a referee,” Taurasi said on Friday. “I only saw legs on top of Sophie [Cunningham] and trying to get everyone off of Sophie. “

WNBA regulations state that a player or coach who makes intentional physical contact with an official will be automatically suspended without pay for a match, and that a fine and / or a longer period of suspension could result if circumstances dictate.

As for calls on social media to suspend it, Taurasi added, “When Twitter talks, the league has a decision to make. They reviewed it. [durante el partido], and they did not charge anything. I wasn’t even in the altercation. “

Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello added: “Diana went to help her partner. That’s what you do at times like this, right? I don’t think she even knew she was a referee. It’s not intentional. She felt that Sophie needed help. “.

Chicago coach James Wade was upset Wednesday that his team threw only four free throws in the game. But of Taurasi’s fine, he said, “I have no comment. Whatever happens between Diana and the league is between the two of them. I don’t want to get into it.”


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