Ionescu continues to live up to the hype, and it’s exactly what the WNBA needs


Because the WNBA season begins, Sabrina Ionescu continues to make those that doubt her look unhealthy.
Picture: Getty Photos

Avengers: Infinity Struggle, Machu Picchu, and Flex Tape.

These are all of the issues I can consider that lived as much as all of the hype they acquired. Nothing else. Not Batman v. Superman, not the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather struggle, and particularly not Anthony Bennett. Nonetheless, I might need to start out placing Sabrina Ionescu on that first checklist as effectively.

I keep in mind means again yonder in 2020, all the things I noticed in regards to the WNBA was about somebody enjoying school basketball. Every part was about Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu. Folks spoke so extremely of her that a few of her accomplishments felt pretend. She led her school workforce to a victory over Staff USA in an exhibition recreation. She was mentored by Kobe Bryant. She was on her technique to profitable each award in girls’s school basketball earlier than COVID shut the season down. I believed to myself: “There’s no means she’s that good.” Positive, she was the sure-fire No. 1 total choose within the upcoming draft, however so was Zion Williamson, and I wouldn’t say he’s been all he was cracked as much as be. He’s been good, however not the man who’d make Pelicans followers overlook about Anthony Davis like he was speculated to. Nicely, it seems, I’m a pathetic, pessimistic, dumb-brain, as a result of Ionescu has taken each expectation and blown them out of the water.

COVID-19 robbed us of rather a lot in 2020, however after the primary three video games of the 2021 WNBA season, Ionescu’s rookie yr might need been one of many best sports activities casualties of the pandemic. All Ionescu has finished on this quick period of time is lead the New York Liberty to a 3-0 begin, hit a game-winning buzzer-beater to open the season, and file the ninth triple-double in WNBA historical past (it was additionally the primary in New York Liberty historical past, and Ionescu is the youngest participant in WNBA historical past to file a triple-double). All that in simply her sixth profession recreation. Oh, and he or she’s finished all of it with out the presence of considered one of her greatest teammates, Asia Durr. It’s nothing wanting insane what Ionescu has been capable of accomplish in such a brief period of time.

That is precisely what I needed to see from the WNBA this yr. After the 2020 season needed to be shielded off from followers, the WNBA wanted one thing to attract individuals again in. It’s unimaginable to see somebody so devoted to success and reaching it. It’s not being handed to her, and he or she’ll positively face some battle down the road, however she’s taking adversity head-on and striving to be higher each second. Her basketball mentality has been in comparison with Michael Jordan’s, and from what I’ve seen, I can’t disagree with that evaluation. There’s an aura surrounding Ionescu each time she’s received the ball in her arms that screams “I’m going to embarrass you” — the identical vitality that MJ dropped at the desk for the Bulls. For a participant with that perspective, that swagger, and that elite stage of play to again it up, to be enjoying in New York Metropolis is simply *mwah* lovely icing on the cake. It hasn’t been this good to be a New York basketball fan in dang close to a decade. Julius Randle is having the perfect season of his profession — main the Knicks to the playoffs for the primary time since 2013 — and he’s not even the perfect participant within the Large Apple.

This lightning-quick rise to stardom for Ionescu makes me take into consideration all the opposite “can’t miss” gamers within the WNBA lately. It makes me ponder whether or not we’d take a look at them in a different way in the event that they’d performed in LA, Chicago, or New York. Gamers like Brittney Griner, Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart, and A’ja Wilson have been all anticipated to be the following massive title to go down within the WNBA mythos. Between them are dozens of All-Star appearances and some MVP awards, however none of them have been ever talked about almost as usually as Elena Delle Donne. Is that as a result of Delle Donne was the one considered one of them to play for a serious market? I feel that has rather a lot to do with it.

Discuss of WNBA enlargement has heated up this yr. With the success of gamers like Ionescu and her being thrust into the nationwide highlight, it looks like this can be the right alternative for the WNBA to take action. Including a second workforce to the Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York markets would create extra alternative for excellent gamers to attract extra consideration to the WNBA as a complete. Ionescu will likely be a key determine in increasing the WNBA’s fanbase. She is doing issues by no means earlier than seen on the hardwood, and he or she has a possibility to set the stage for a enjoyable, compelling WNBA season when it so desperately wants one. I stay up for watching it.


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