Sabrina lonescu, the triple-double queen, was selected by the New York Liberty in last night’s NBA draft. She was the # 1 pick in a first of its kind, virtual draft. New York has been the hardest hit with 33% of U.S. COVID-19 cases and nearly half of the COVID-19 deaths, so virtual was the only way it could have happened. For a few moments the New York sports enthusiasts could shout out and dream about when this young player’s fame would go viral.
Sabrina had accomplished much of what she wanted to by the end of 2019, except a NATIONAL Championship. She could have been a high draft pick in the WNBA after that season, but she had “un-finished” business. She wanted to come back for her senior year as a leader of the Oregon Ducks, to win the coveted NCAA Championship. Learn more about Sabrina.
Sabrina’s senior year went fairly well. The Ducks only had one non-conference and one PAC-12 loss. There might have been hints that the year was not going to go as planned, when in January Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash. Kobe was an awesome player and international star. He was also a great fan, friend, and sage mentor of Sabrina. Kobe valued her passion and commitment to the game; her tremendous work ethic; and Einstein-like intelligence, intuition, and curiosity related to the game of basketball. At Kobe’s memorial, Sabrina said it best, “All that he cared about really was your love of the game. That was the test you had to pass with Kobe: Could you match him passion for passion when it came to hoops.” Sabrina’s tribute at Kobe’s memorial placed her in the world’s eye and solidified her as the heir apparent to one of the greatest players.
Kobe was one of my favorite players as well. Not just for his poetry in motion and thrilling feats on the court but also for busting stereotypes as a Black athlete in American. He showed his physical skills and intellectual capacity, with equal tenacity. His business savvy was applauded. Fortunately, Kobe will be inducted into the basketball of fame in August, which will give us another opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge his accomplishments.
The Race is not Always to the Swift….but to Those Who Keep Running
While she was described as not the most athletic, Sabrina was near genius in command of the principles/practices of the game and yes, can flat out play. With Sabrina’s stellar play, the Oregon Ducks went on to win PAC 12 tournament title. Sabrina was named the MVP and the iconic record buster was on her way to the unfinished business. That is when we saw glimpses of COVID-19–the Pac 12 tournament support staff were constantly wiping the railing down and sanitizing the restrooms. Stanford University announced near the end of the tournament that they were canceling in-person classes. They were early adopters of this policy. The rest of the Nation was still moving along. The alarm alerting residents about the virus hadn’t sounded.
Then, COVID-19 raised its vicious head, which left no choice but to cancel the NCAA tournament. Ah! All the anticipation of seeing the Ducks against the South Carolina Gamecocks was squashed. The business remained unfinished. Would Oregon have beaten Dawn Staley’s crew? We will never know. We do know that Sabrina will finish the business of graduating from college, ending in a virtual fashion. Oh what a year!
Third Eye Experience
The 2020 NCAA National Championship will remain a figment of our imagination. Though Sabrina really wanted to wear that crown, everything will be alright because she will transcend that single game. She will get a shoe deal from one of the major companies, which will bring income as well as exposure. She has choices but I think the ‘Just Do it!’ shoe makers, are my favorite. I’ve loved this slogan forever. Sabrina will step into the shoes that Kobe was slipping off just as the helicopter disintegrated. It all makes perfect sense that the master was grooming his pupil for greatness. Again Sabrina provides the bird’s eye view, “ I’ve begun to realize—even if it was only for this short time?? That Kobe and I, and our paths…they are connected for a reason.” This is a third eye experience. They connected, they knew, and so it was. She went on to say, “He didn’t see growing the game with girls as his hobby…[Kobe]He saw it as a movement… He got involved because he wanted to be part of it.”
Like Kobe, Sabrina’s popularity is tremendous and spans ages, races, gender, ability levels, and sexual orientation. She will be a role model and HERO for young girls aspiring to live out their hopes and dreams. She will help elevate women’s sports to unimagined heights. Yet the country, the world will have to wait, because COVID-19 at this time will determine our fate! We must continue to listen to the experts. Continue the physical distancing until we are told to stop; wear the mask –that grins and lies; wash the hands until dry; and stay at home as much as possible.
5-4-3-2-1 WNBA Here Sabrina Comes
The 2020 WBNA season was scheduled to start May 15, of course pre-COVID-19. It is now postponed indefinitely. Health officials are examining how it will look when recommendations are eased. Everyone wants to make sure players and fans are going to be healthy and safe. Once again, Sabrina will have to wait to see just how well she will fare among the best of the bests. The competitors will be waiting for the rookie. With her tremendous work ethic she will surely use the COVID-19 delay to hone her craft. Kobe’s lessons will guide her as she begins her journey with the New York Liberty. She will become a household name and in doing so will elevate the WBNA. When New York can finally come up for air, they will be very excited.