On June 22, 1997 a funny looking ball that resembled a basketball was tossed up in the air and for Phoenix Mercury fans the excitement that ensued has never came back down. 16,000 plus fans watched as a quick and pesky point guard wormed her way the hearts of thousands as the first international player to play in the WNBA, leading the Mercury to a 76-59 win over the Charlotte Sting. They watched as Bridget Pettis sank a three point shot for the franchise's first basket. With two WNBA championships, nine all-stars and multiple WNBA offensive record shattering seasons there have been many memorable performances in the past 16 seasons, here are the top ten most memorable performances in Mercury history.
10. Jennifer Gillom
On August 10, 1998 Jennifer Gillom scored 36 points and grabbed eight rebounds in an 82-80 double overtime win against the Cleveland Rockers. Gillom shot 13-27 scoring 10 of the Mercury's last 14 points in regulation and 10 of the team's 16 points in the two overtimes.
On June 6, 2009 Dewanna Bonner stepped onto the U.S. Airways Center floor for her first WNBA game. Bonner scored her first basket within 45 seconds of entering the game. Bonner ended her first game with 16 points and 11 rebounds becoming the first rookie in franchise history to record a double double in their WNBA debut. Bonner would finish the season with five double doubles, winning the first of three consecutive Sixth Woman of the Year awards.
8. Kamila Vodichkova
On July 26, 2005 Kamila Vodichkova set the record for most consecutive shots made to start a game in league history. Vodichkova made her first 10 shots on her way to a career high 24 points. Her only miss was a lay up attempt in the second half. She finished the game with the highest field goal percentage (in a single game) in franchise history and tied for the second highest in WNBA history.
7. Candice Dupree
On June 10, 2011 Candice Dupree started a streak that would continue over the next three games. Dupree registered four straight double doubles, including a 21 point, 18 rebound performance against Indiana on June 19, 2011. She averaged 17.7 points and 13.5 rebounds over the span.
6. Bridget Pettis
On August 26, 1998 Bridget Pettis had 27 points and 11 rebounds in game three of the first round of the playoffs, leading the Mercury to a 70-61 victory over the Cleveland Rockers. The victory advanced the Mercury to the WNBA finals against the defending champions Houston Comets.
5. Michele Timms
On August 17, 1997 Michele Timms led the Mercury to a 71-63 overtime victory over the Utah Starzz. Timms filled the box scored with seven points, seven rebounds, five assists and a WNBA record tying eight steals. The relentlessness Timms brought to the game helped the Mercury rallied back from a 14 point halftime deficit.
4. Tangela Smith
The box score on October 9, 2009 will only show Tangela Smith with six points. Those are six points that Phoenix Mercury fans will never forget. The Indiana Fever had rallied from a double digit deficit and tied the game with a little over four minutes remaining. Within the next 45 seconds Tangela Smith had sank two three pointers and the Mercury went on to win the game and the 2009 WNBA championship.
On September 13, 2007 Cappie Pondexter scored 26 points in game four of the WNBA finals against the defending champions Detroit Shock. Phoenix Mercury fans are likely to forget the other 24 points but they will never forget 25 and 26. With 34 seconds remaining, Deanna Nolan hit a jump shot to put the Shock ahead 76-75. With 21 seconds remaining, Pondexter hit a bank shot lifting the Mercury over the Shock 77-76 and forcing a decisive game five.
2. Penny Taylor
On September 16, 2007 Penny Taylor showed the entire WNBA why she is so beloved in Phoenix. Taylor mostly known by Mercury fans as being underappreciated and underestimated by everyone else lead the Mercury in scoring in game five of the 2007 WNBA finals. While this may not surprise anyone, it was how she got those 30 points that will forever be remembered by fans. Taylor didn't get hot from behind the three point line and she didn't blow by her defender for uncontested layups. The Detroit Shock made Taylor earn her points. They hacked, grabbed and manhandled Taylor, sending her to the free throw line for 18 free throws. In true Taylor fashion, she calmly stepped to the line each time and made them. She made each and every one of them. Taylor's performance lead the Mercury to a 108-92 victory and the 2007 WNBA championship. It was the first time in league history a team won the championship on the road.
In August of 2006, the Phoenix Mercury, trying to earn a playoff berth, went on a seven game winning streak. They did not lose a single game in August. While the seven game winning streak is memorable, the most memorable event occurred on August 10, 2006. The Mercury took on the Houston Comets in a triple overtime thriller, another memorable event in itself, but it was the performance of Diana Taurasi that was the most memorable. The Mercury would come out on top 111-110, led by Diana Taurasi's 47 points, nine assists and six rebounds. Adding to the amazement, only five of Taurasi's points came from the free throw line. Taurasi didn't even compete in the third overtime, after being whistled for her sixth foul with just under three minutes remaining in the second overtime. Taurasi's 47 points tied the record for most points scored in a WNBA game. She shares the record with the Seattle Storm's Lauren Jackson.