She’s going to become the face of the WNBA. It won’t be long before saying “Sabrina Ionescu” will be so redundant.
It’s going to be just plain “Sabrina.” Just like it’s Magic, LeBron and Kobe.
You can talk about her 26 triple-doubles in college or being the only collegiate player -- male or female -- to total 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds in a career and that’s spectacular stuff.
But this is a lot more than a basketball player. She’s going to take women’s basketball places it hasn’t been before. I had seen several of her interviews over the past three or four years, but after a 20-minute Skype session with her recently, I came away with a one-word reaction:
There are people who have some charisma and there are others who have a heaping helping of it. Sabrina has a truckload. She’s smart and poised enough to have delivered a beautiful eulogy at Kobe Bryant’s memorial service, before a packed Staples Center crowd and a national television audience.
And you watch her on a court with teammates and see the great leadership qualities, too.
She has that “it” quality that even some of the great players don’t possess.
I think NBA players see it. They love her grit, intensity and how hard she competes. And their respect is an important bridge between the NBA and WNBA -- which is something the women’s league needs.
The WNBA will likely never draw the TV ratings of the NBA, but those numbers need to be higher and Sabrina can be a big part of that.
It’s apparent she has a great chance to earn more money than any female basketball player has ever made. She’s already signed with Beats by Dre and Nike and she’s going to move product for every company wise enough to sign her. Her Liberty replica jersey sold out in an hour.
I would expect Nike to go all in with her -- not only a signature shoe, but perhaps even her own apparel line.
Oh, and her pro team, the New York Liberty, is out from under the dark shadow of James Dolan and the Knicks and will play in the Barclay Center in Brooklyn -- so it has a chance to be a solid franchise.
But her story is going to be about more than money and basketball. She seems to be a person who will use her notoriety to forward social causes that are special to her. She could be an off-the-court force.
In that regard, her partnership with Nike has a chance to lead to some very special promotional campaigns.
It’s going to be so interesting to see where basketball takes Sabrina.
And even more exciting to see where Sabrina takes basketball.