Mystics

Mystics

Washington Mystics' star Elena Delle Donne must make a difficult decision between risking her health to play basketball or forfeit her WNBA salary.

She hopes that the decision by independent doctors to deny her medical opt-out request didn't stem from her value and status within the WNBA. 

The two-time WNBA MVP joined SportsCenter after making a strong statement Wednesday in her Players' Tribune article

Host Elle Dunce asked Delle Donne if her prominence in the sport weighed into the league's decision to not allow her to sit out and receive pay despite her noted issues with Lyme disease. 

"I'm not sure and I really hope it didn't," Delle Donne said. "I would hope they would treat me as 'Player X' and they see that I've been treated for something for nine years. They've seen my bloodwork. I submitted everything. So, I really hope that wasn't the reason why this happened."

RELATED: DELLE DONNE PUT IN A TOUGH SPOT, REVEALS ALL IN LETTER

Of course, losing someone of Delle Donne's magnitude will hurt the competitiveness and draw of the league. Last season, Delle Donne won the league's MVP award while leading a prolific Mystics' offense to the organization's first WNBA championship. 

That all happened while the then-defending champion Seattle Storm were without perennial All-Stars Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart. A year prior that team swept the Mystics. Without Bird and Stewart, no one was able to slow down Washington. 

 

To avoid this potential conflict of interest, the panel was constructed of three independent doctors separate from the league. Each doctor was approved by the league and the league's player's union, according to multiple reports. 

This panel is used to judge players' health if they are at a higher risk of getting the coronavirus by going to the WNBA's bubble in Bradenton, Fla. If an individual's medical request is approved, they can opt-out while still receiving pay for the year. Since Delle Donne's immune system is compromised due to Lyme disease, it was assumed by many that she would be granted her request.

"I hope it's doctors just still being unaware of Lyme disease and not having Lyme-literate doctors on that panel because I don't want to believe that's what happened," Delle Donne said. "But, unfortunately, it might be what happened."

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