Penny Taylor has today officially been inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame, class of 2023.
Born and raised in Melbourne’s outer east, Taylor’s brilliant 19-year career brimmed with achievements including 3 Olympics and two silver medals, four World Cups including a gold medal and tournament MVP and success and championships right across Europe and in the WNBA.
A 185cm forward with a high-basketball IQ and outstanding skill set, Taylor was the ultimate competitor who rose to the big occasion and led her country and teams with class.
Today, Taylor lives in Phoenix, Arizona with wife Diana Taurasi where they are raising their young children Leo, 5, and Isla, 1.
“My life is pretty much consumed with children and home life so it’s a nice little reminder that I once did something else other than this,” Taylor said.
“It’s also good because you forget what you did, there were so many years of continuously playing year-round, all the different seasons and it kind of just flies by.
Until I saw the list FIBA put together, I’d forgotten half of it. “I really cared about the FIBA stuff and I really cared about Euro League.
I fought my butt off for it so for me it’s just as good as any other recognition because it was important to me.
“I loved it, I loved playing in Europe and I loved playing for FIBA.
People now choose not to and go find others things to fill their time but it was really special, it was a great time to be over there, great leagues around the world, getting to experience other cultures and learn a new language all those things for me were massive, they were huge.
“So getting recognition for doing that even though it wasn’t easy, it nice, it’s special.
It was a hard thing to do but now looking back and being able to have done it, I’m really happy with it.
“There were a lot of years, especially the Italian years, where we didn’t have the best team or we were struggling and those teams fought really hard and I’m really proud of those years as well as the years where we did win.
“And everyone always says that too, it’s not until you finish you appreciate what you did because when you’re in it you’re focused on that particular moment in time.
“So, it is nice to look back, remember a little bit and be grateful for it.”
Part of the famous AIS team of teenagers which took the WNBL by storm to win the 1999 championship, Taylor would dominate the competition as a young gun winning back-to-back league MVPs as a 21 and 22-year-old before taking her game global.
Her career highlight is obvious. The 2006 World Cup in Brazil where she played a big hand in creating Australian basketball history.
“The goal for me was always to win and that’s the only time we won a gold medal as the Opals,” Taylor says.
“Those tournaments were really tough and that year we happened to have a really deep team, experienced and tough players and a lot of fresh legs mixed in with that.
We had everyone healthy and we got a little bit of luck not having to face the US at any stage during that tournament and it all just came together.”
Reaching the pinnacle of her sport, the Olympic Games, Taylor was part of silver-medal winning campaigns in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.
An ACL cruelly sidelined her from the 2012 London Games but a proud moment would follow four years later in Rio where she would captain her country.
“It was actually more special and important to me than I realised,” Taylor explains.
“I held a lot of responsibility and importance in being a good leader for the Opals even when I wasn’t captain so it was nice to have that title.
“I wasn’t expecting it to feel so important but it was really special to me.”
PENNY TAYLOR CV TEAMS
- Australian Institute of Sport (1997-1999)
- Dandenong Rangers (1999-2002)
- Cleveland Rockers (2001-2003)
- Termocarispe La Spezia (2002-2003)
- Famila Schio (2003-2007)
- UMMC Ekaterinburg (2007-2009)
- Fenerbahçe Istanbul (2009-2013)
- Dandenong Rangers (2014-2015)
- Shanxi Flame (2015-2016)
- Phoenix Mercury (2004-2007, 2009-2011, 2013-2014, 2016)
- Australian League champion (1999)
- Two-time Italian League champion (2005, 2006)
- Russian League champion (2009)
- Four-time Turkish League champion (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)
- Three-time WNBA champion (2007, 2009, 2014)
NATIONAL TEAM HIGHLIGHTS
- Junior World Championship silver medallist (1997)
- Two-time Olympic Games silver medallist (2004, 2008)
- Two-time World Championship silver medallist (2002, 2014)
- World Championship gold medallist (2006)
- Played in four World Championships (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014)
- Played in three Olympic Games (2004, 2008, 2016)
- Two-time Australian League MVP (2001, 2002)
- Three-time WNBA All-Star (2002, 2007, 2011)
- Two-time All-WNBA First Team (2007, 2011)
- All-WNBA Second Team
- Three-time Australian League All-Star Five
- Two-time Australian League Top Shooter Award
- World Championship MVP (2006)