On Friday night, Sabrina Ionescu played her first game since a major injury cost her most of her first WNBA season.
Safe to say, the comeback couldn’t have gone much better for her or the Liberty.
The No.1 pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft had a 25-point double-double and 11 assists and provided his team’s full attack to beat the fever.
Ionescu scored New York’s last eight points, including a 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds left to give New York a 90-87 victory. The Liberty followed up to four points in the last minute.
“I wanted him. I haven’t played for a while. I wanted him for this team,” she said of her decisive shot. “We have had a huge victory here. This is just the start for us.”
Ionescu missed most of the 2020 campaign in the “Wubble” after suffering a Grade 3 ankle sprain. She expressed gratitude on Friday for Liberty’s patience with her during her recovery.
“I’m just excited to start playing again and doing what I love. You know my team supported me, my coaching team, this whole organization,” she said. “That’s what I love to do. The ups, downs, all through it. It really pays off.”
While Ionescu’s season opener was unforgettable, so was the tribute she had planned before that. She arrived at Barclays Center in Brooklyn wearing the late Kobe Bryant jersey.
Ionescu considered Bryant a mentor and a friend, which made the jersey a touching way to kick off a season, especially with Bryant ready to be inducted posthumously at the Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday.