Sabrina Ionescu loves having relationship with Warriors' Steph Curry

Sabrina Ionescu loves having relationship with Warriors' Steph Curry

Sabrina Ionescu, the "Triple Double Queen," put Oregon Ducks women's basketball on the map, and made some famous friends/mentors along the way. 

During Ionescu's rise at Oregon, she caught the attention of Warriors star Steph Curry and late Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant. 

"She's an unbelievable talent on that team," Curry said of Ionescu at a press conference last year. "She's a legend in her own right, that's for sure." 

Ionescu grew up in Walnut Creek, watching Curry take the Warriors from NBA laughing stock to Goliath with his silky shooting stroke and unmatched swagger. 

The two legends have become close over the past year, and Ionescu knows she can reach out to the Warriors star anytime she needs something. 

"I love having a relationship with [Curry], just being able to remember when I was little, watching him and kind of emulating my game after him, to now being able to call him or text him any time that I need help with something," Ionescu told ESPN's Maria Taylor. 

The past few months have been hard on Ionescu. She lost her mentor and friend when Bryant, along with his daughter Gianna and seven others were tragically killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26. 

Ionescu gave an emotional speech at their memorial at Staples Center, eulogizing an NBA legend gone too soon and his daughter who was destined to be the next great thing in women's basketball.

“ 'You have too much to give to stay silent.’ That’s what he said," Ionescu said at the memorial. "That’s what he believed. That’s what he lived. Through Gigi, through me, through his investment in women’s basketball. That was his next great act, a girl dad.

“Basketball in many ways was just a metaphor. I still text him even though he’s not here. ‘Thank you for everything. The rest is for you. Rest easy my guy.’ The last one I sent him said, ‘I miss you, may you rest in peace, my dear friend.’ "

That night, Ionescu flew back to the Bay Area where the Ducks were slated to play No. 7 ranked Stanford. With Curry in attendance, Ionescu made history, becoming the first Division I player to record 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds. 

"It's pretty amazing to see her set new levels of expectation for what greatness is, not just for women's basketball but for basketball in general," Curry told ESPN while watching Ionescu make history. 

"She's blazing a trail nobody has set foot on." 

That trail was supposed to end with the Ducks cutting down the nets as national champions. Oregon rolled Stanford in the Pac-12 title game and looked poised to run through the NCAA Tournament to check off the final and most important box on their Unfinished Business tour. 

But Ionescu and the Ducks never got that chance. 

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the NCAA made the prudent decision to cancel both the men's and women's basketball tournament, ending Ionescu's collegiate career without her getting the proper sendoff. 

[RELATED: Iguodala shares funny story from Steph's 13 treys]

Ionescu and the Ducks didn't get their storybook ending, and now the superstar point guard is set to take her talents to the next level -- she's expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft by the New York Liberty -- knowing she left the Ducks and the women's college game in a better place. 

She'll still be pinging questions off Curry -- whether it's about her game, promoting women's basketball or something else -- whenever the need arises.

Curry, who took his two daughters to watch Ionescu thrash Cal, knows the importance of his support of the women's game. Ionescu plans to carry Kobe's torch on the floor, and Curry can do the same as an advocate for women's basketball. 

Together their growing relationship can do powerful things. 

And the game of basketball will be better off for it. 

NBA rumors: Warriors' season over in Adam Silver plan likely to pass

NBA rumors: Warriors' season over in Adam Silver plan likely to pass

It appears that the Warriors' tumultuous 2019-20 season has come to a merciful end.

The NBA's board of governors is expected to approve league commissioner Adam Silver's recommendation for a restart of the NBA season with 22 teams, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports citing league sources.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

The potential plan would involve both play-in and regular-season games to solidify the playoff picture, all hosted at ESPN's Wide World of Sports inside DisneyWorld. Golden State currently sits at the bottom of the Western Conference standings with a 15-50 record, far out of the realm of postseason contention.

Wojnarowski also reports that the league has not put full support behind any of the proposals, but a full 30-team return has been taken off the table. This likely would have been the only way for the Warriors to be part of this restart plan.

[RELATED: No Warriors bigger help to James Harden's title quest than weight loss]

In addition to the 16 teams currently in the playoff picture, the 22-team proposal includes any team within six games of the eighth and final playoff spot. The New Orleans Pelicans, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs would join the fold from the Western Conference, while the Washington Wizards would be the lone Eastern Conference team earning a spot.

Fans hoping to get one more glimpse of Steph Curry in a Warriors uniform this season likely will have to wait until the 2020-21 NBA season tips off.

Warriors' Steve Kerr said George Floyd's death led to 'soul-searching'

Warriors' Steve Kerr said George Floyd's death led to 'soul-searching'

Steve Kerr hasn't been afraid to use his platform to speak his mind.

The Warriors coach has consistently criticized President Donald Trump. He has publicly pushed for what he thinks are desperately needed gun-control reforms. Kerr, a white coach in a predominantly black sport, has also repeatedly spoken out against racism and police brutality toward African Americans, including in the wake of George Floyd's death in the custody of Minneapolis police earlier this week.

Kerr also thinks he and other white people can do more to advance racial equality.

"[Even] though I've tried, I haven't done enough and I don't think any of us have done enough," Kerr told 95.7 The Game's "Damon, Ratto & Kolsky" on Friday afternoon. "When I say us, I mean white people. We haven't done enough. It's just the truth. If we had, this sort of thing wouldn't be happening."

Bystanders in Minneapolis recorded video of former officer Derek Chauvin, a white man, kneeling on Floyd's neck for approximately eight minutes as the 46-year-old African American man pleaded that he couldn't breathe. Chauvin and three other officers at the scene were fired Tuesday, and Chauvin was arrested Friday on charges of manslaughter and third-degree murder. Charging documents alleged that Chauvin's knee remained on Floyd's neck for nearly three minutes while Floyd was unresponsive, though a preliminary autopsy determined there were “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.”

Floyd's death set off protests in the Twin Cities beginning Tuesday. Protesters demonstrated nationwide Friday, including in San Jose and Oakland. Athletes with ties to the Bay Area, including Floyd's longtime friend and former Warrior Stephen Jackson as well as ex-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, have spoken out in recent days. Jackson, in particular, called on white people to join the voices advocating for social justice and racial equality.

Kerr noted Kaepernick tried to bring attention to situations like Floyd's with his peaceful protest during the 2016 NFL season, but he said the QB "basically got shut down" for kneeling during the playing of the national anthem. Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since becoming a free agent in 2017, while a Rutgers University study published last year found African American men and boys are nearly 2.5 times more likely to die in an encounter with police than white men and boys.

"I guess I'm saying it's not enough to sign a petition, or send a tweet or make a statement," Kerr said of himself and other white people. "We have to actually do something. There's got to be a call to action, and then we need a list of things to check off, and we need to do them collectively and demand that those things be done. It's embarassing and humiliating that we're still in this place, and it's tough to reconcile all this stuff."

[RELATED: Jackson calls for justice for 'my twin' George Floyd at rally]

Kerr told the hosts he will rely on his friends who are involved in race relations and community organizing to learn how he can help. After a lot of "soul-searching" this week, Kerr said there is more work to be done.

"There's so many things that have to happen in order for the African American community to gain the racial equality, the social justice that they deserve," he said in the interview. "And it matters because we're all Americans, and we're all together and what happens to one person affects what happens to the next person, and so on. It's been really demoralizing to feel the divide that exists in the country, and especially when that divide is exacerbated by our President on a daily basis, on an hourly basis. I'm frustrated, I'm humiliated, but I'm also determined to try to do more."