Sabrina Ionescu Wants to Win the Whole Damn Thing

ESPN Daily


Merrill is a senior writer for ESPN and spent time with Sabrina UNESCO in her family last year for an in-depth profile Liz gets called generational talent? Now sometimes it feels like every top prospect every year gets called a generational talent but with her. It does not seem like hyperbole. No it's not. She's the real deal. She is sort of the Serena Williams of women's basketball. She can shoot the ball. You'd ask you three out. Topped the net barely move. She can dish out passes with relative ease. It looks like she's not even trying cut by over us into double figures at a great pass by ZIP on her passes they get there so quickly and then she can crash the boards UNESCO rebound. She's opened for three it. And you look at the stat sheet and all of a sudden. Wow this kid has thirty points ten assists and ten rebounds and you didn't notice because she makes it look so effortless people are taking notice. Celebrities are taking notice celebrities. Have come just to watch her and the Oregon women play Which you would have never really heard of that. Ten or fifteen years ago like male professional athletes taking the time to meet her or give her a shoutout. I mean this is an example of game recognizing game. Well what have some of those other athletes said about her well Steph? Curry has called her. A legend Libron has called her queen and said that she so dope. Kobe has had. Actually you know gone to meet her. Him and his daughter had seen her play. And what evolved? There was a friendship. You didn't necessarily see that crossover before you know when you did in in times past. You're like wow if you ever saw like a male athlete especially the best of the best. When you're talking about Lebron and staff in Kobe I mean these are guys who've actually seen her play and have taken the time to either go on twitter. Whatever venue and to praise her play. That's a pretty big deal. You know. Even Gino Auriemma said. She's smart. She waits for you to make a mistake a lot of lot of guards. They go so fast that they don't give you a chance to make a mistake. She goes at a pace. Where she waits in waits and waits. When you screw up. She takes advantage of and that's saying a lot for from him who has seen so many great players. I mean every time you think of a great women's basketball player. We're almost always talking about somebody who went to uconn. Be Terachi or BRIANNA STEWART. Or Sue bird or my amore. We're almost always talking about someone who come from that program. Now we're talking about somebody who plays for Oregon and it's not like Oregon is in the middle of nowhere but it's not an easy place to watch basketball because they're on the west coast. You're not GONNA if the if they are on. Tv A lot of times. They're late but yet a more and more people are getting to know about her star power and the fact that you've got all of these these guys who are at the best of the best. You've got Lebron calling her queen I mean that is that's being displayed to all of his millions of followers. Some of the praise that she's received you just. You don't see that you haven't seen that in the past from other women's basketball players. Cobi not only praised her. He actually broke down her game for us. We'll look Sabrina and say okay. She's great handling the ball. Of course us. She's great onscreen roles. Of course she is but what makes really dangerous is that she can catch and shoot to right so she can move off the ball. She's just as dangerous. Doing this. Offer catching shoot. She was asked about him after his death and had this to say I mean everything I do. I do it for him. Obviously Really close friend and this season's for him. What was their relationship like so she met him he. He attended one of her games and over the past year so they became pretty close. She admired his game deeply and vice versa. He you know obviously Kobe with a daughter. Who's really into Basketball that was sort of a bond a she was really emotional after Learning of his death She dedicated that next game to him and kind of broke down just talking about him before we get to this season and what. Sabrina 's accomplishing. I WanNa talk to you about how this all began. How Her story starts? You did a big profile of Sabrina. Last year you spent time with her and her family was she like as a kid well so she had a really unique background. Her family's from Romania. She didn't grow up there but in nineteen eighty nine. The was a revolution in Romania and her father. Dan wanted to leave the country seeking political asylum and so he left for Northern California leaving his wife and their two year old son Andrei behind. He went there sort of for the American dream to kind of provide for the family told the family told his wife. Hey hopefully I can send for you in six months. Got a cab job and was trying to make some money now. That six months a turned into five years five years past he by this time he has turned that cab job into his own limousine company and he can send for the family. So that's nine thousand nine hundred five two years later. Pair of twins were born A boy and a girl and Sabrina came I of course because she would end up being sort of the bossie sibling of the family. And then Eddie came. I think eighteen minutes later That really forged her path having a twin brother who played basketball and the reason they started playing basketball was because both parents worked and maybe it was a simpler time but her dad would drop them off at a park down the street and Walnut Creek and she just started playing her. Daddy would play with other kids. Klay Curry COMP. Exactly she was the one bringing the curry. Okay say you know I was first recurring there you go. She'd get knocked around a lot and she do some knocking herself and sheer. Her skills really evolved from that street basketball into what we see. Now which is one of women's basketball's lead. I mean they got so good that they would start hustling older kids or even adults for like money. that they would use to buy slurpy and you know they speak Romanian and so they could actually Kinda have their own code when they're playing or even if they wanted to make fun of the players that they were playing against they talk to each other in Romania. Hate to use the word tomboy but she was You know her. Mom told me when Sabrina was in junior high. Some a counselor called and said hey you know. We're really concerned about her going to high school. Because she doesn't really communicate with any females. She over friends or boys and her mom's like yeah whatever. Okay I'll get right on that and did nothing. Because she knew that she was developing this young woman who was strong who had her own voice and did what she wanted to and was really good at it so her size helped them in that hustle. Did it lead to her being underestimated when she got to junior high and high school she was but by the time she was leaving high school and being recruited obviously she was heavily sought after. Shit. Yeah She. She wasn't the first person you would look for on the court. She wasn't necessarily anything spectacular By any means but once you saw her play in what she could do a lot of her stuff is like you know the old fashioned elbow grease stuff where you know she the reason. She has all those rebounds is because when she played with boys she never got the ball and so the only way she was getting the ball is if she somehow muscled her way in there. The family is not a basketball family. Didn't even know anything about basketball before they came here and even in those first years they. It wasn't something that they really knew. A lot about coming from Romania. Pretty much everything she has gotten has sort of. Been off of this whole work

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