Sabrina Ionescu hits 3 wins to start WNBA season, honors Kobe Bryant


On Friday, her first comeback since a sprained ankle sidelined her for most of her rookie season in 2020, Ionescu hit a winning trio with less than a second remaining to give New York Liberty a 90-87 victory over Indiana Fever. in Game 1 of the 25th WNBA season.

“Actually – I’m not going to lie at all – dreamed about it last night,” Ionescu told reporters after the game – while wearing the Lakers jersey of the late Kobe Bryant, his friend and mentor.

“I try not to think too much about basketball the night before a game because I’m nervous and I can’t sleep,” said Ionescu. “But I had 100% considered hitting a match winner. So when we were tied and we got into the clique, I just smiled because it was almost too good to be true. , I’m going to hit that if the coaches set up a game for me to get the ball.

“My coaches believed in me. My team believed in me. I was just ready for the moment. I was waiting a while to get back on the pitch. I’m so happy that we were able to achieve this victory.”

Ionescu spoke at the memorial service last year for Kobe and Gianna Bryant, after the two and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020. Bryant will be inducted Saturday at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2020.
Sabrina Ionescu makes history just hours after speaking at Kobe and Gianna Bryant memorial

“I am delighted to go out there and watch him, to be with family and friends and to just be able to watch his legacy live on through all of us, all who were close to him, all who he was. has affected, “Ionescu said. “It’s amazing how this is going to continue to live on in young girls, boys, people all over the world. I’m super excited to go see this. No one deserves it more. He deserves it, and I am. so happy for that. him. “

Ionescu, the No.1 pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft, tied the game with two free throws made with 21.8 seconds left. After Indiana guard Kelsey Mitchell was called in to travel with 5.8 seconds left, New York recovered the ball, setting up Ionescu to make his dream come true, draining the three-point shot and leaving only 0.4 seconds on the counter. She finished with 25 points, 11 assists and six rebounds.

It was his first game at the Barclays Center in New York City, with last year’s WNBA season taking place in Bradenton, Florida due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“She’s got a pretty special way of being current,” Liberty head coach Walt Hopkins said of her star guard. “You can see it every day in training. But in these important situations, that’s where she shines. That’s what she lives for. I’m pretty excited that she’s on my team. “

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