Over the last two months amid the NBA hiatus, TNT’s Ernie Johnson has hosted a weekly half-hour show live on the NBA’s Twitter page called ‘NBA Together with Ernie Johnson.’
After having guests like Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard and NBA greats such as Steve Nash and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, it seems only fitting that Oregon’s own Sabrina Ionescu would be the first woman to join the show.
Watching the former Oregon Duck point guard describe what she’s been doing to stay active during this global pandemic, there was something different about this interview.
She spoke with confidence and poise, which is not out of the ordinary for Ionescu by any means, but it definitely didn’t feel as though she was just about to enter her rookie season in the WNBA.
Ionescu is already a veteran of the interview game.
Many basketball fans don’t often think about what professional athletes do outside of the game they are getting paid to play.
But, in all reality, doing national and local interviews is part of the gig.
And, Sabrina’s interview game is strong.
She has made her presence felt in the college game as a woman. That IS out of the ordinary.
She has had NBA players take notice.
Sure, she may still be short with her answers from time to time, but that’s to be expected from a recent college graduate.
To be a reporter covering the New York Liberty’s No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft will be an honor and not just because they will get to witness her play on the court.
Sabrina will be building her brand in the Big Apple for all eyes to see. She already understands that she can use her platform for much more than just the game.
I think I’ve learned that through the years, I don’t just want to be a basketball player. I want to stand for a lot more than that and it’s really a lot bigger than the sport you’re playing. So, hopefully whether that’s women in sports, women’s equality, I can hopefully stand for something that’s a lot bigger than just basketball. -- Sabrina Ionescu
At just 22 years old, and only a month away from earning her Master’s Degree from the University of Oregon, Ionescu’s play speaks for itself.
She’s a phenomenal player with an amazing work ethic that made Steph Curry and Kobe Bryant take notice, but her voice is also about to be heard.
She says “hopefully” her brand will stand for something bigger than basketball. Witnessing her career at Oregon and watching how she not only conducts herself in interviews, but also on her social media platforms, there’s not doubt she will leave her mark on the WNBA.
[RELATED] Sabrina Ionescu is a brand and she already knows how to leverage it
And honestly, the question isn’t:
How will the NCAA’s all-time leader in career triple-double impact women in sports?
The question is: HOW MASSIVE OF AN IMPACT WILL SHE have on the WNBA and on young women all over the world?
Having a story like she has where she would wait in the stands of her brother’s middle school basketball games, hoping not enough players would show up so that she’d get the opportunity to lace ‘em up, is what young girls love to hear.
Sabrina says she was around three years old when she first picked up a basketball.
But, during her middle school days, there was only a boy basketball program. That didn’t sit well with her father, Dan Ionescu.
“The after school program was supposed to have a girls team. My dad went into the office and told them, ‘hey can Sabrina play with her brother on the guys team?’ And, they were like, ‘no, we don’t allow girls on the guys team, she should be playing with dolls.’ My dad was… My dad had a little temper, he was a little bit mad like all dads would probably be,” Ionescu said with a smile.
Ionescu’s showing there’s still a possibility she could still play with the guys.
Watch the entire interview here.