Sports are such a fascinating thing. Anything and everything can happen in the world of sports and that’s why fans become so enamored with them. But for every wonderful season that goes down in history as one of the most incredible sports moments, there is another side to the sports world. Absolute heartbreak.
For every championship moment and celebration, there is plenty of anguish and despair as your team is eliminated from contention.
In 2018, just about everything went right for the Seattle Storm. In the off-season, Storm CEO & General Manager Alisha Valavanis made two hugely impactful moves trading for Natasha Howard and drafting point guard Jordin Canada. These moves combined with the building blocks of eventual MVP Breanna Stewart, All-Star Jewell Loyd, Defensive Ace Alysha Clark, and Legend Sue Bird, the Seattle Storm had one of their greatest seasons in franchise history, going 26-8 in the regular season and 6-2 in the playoffs on their way to claiming the organization’s third WNBA Championship.
In 2019, it’s basically been Murphy’s Law for the Seattle Storm. The team was dealt three consecutive blows one after the other before the season even began. First reigning league MVP Breanna Stewart went down with a torn Achilles while finishing up her off-season play in Russia. The injury would keep her out of the entire 2019 season. Then it was announced that Head Coach Dan Hughes would have to undergo surgery to help remove Cancer in his digestive tract and would miss several games to start the season. And finally, it was announced that Sue Bird required knee surgery and would miss at least a couple months if not the entire 2019 season.
But that was only the beginning. As the season began, the team was without Alysha Clark for three games. Then Jordin Canada went down with a knee injury that took her out of three games as well.
Somehow, someway, the Seattle Storm managed to remain one of the best teams in the league. Entering Tuesday’s game against the Las Vegas Aces with a 7-4 record and the 4th best record in the WNBA. The remaining healthy players, led by Natasha Howard and Jewell Loyd have really stepped up to keep the Storm highly competitive.
But then it happened. The Storm were dealt yet another devastating blow as All-Star Jewell Loyd twisted her ankle in gruesome fashion in the opening minutes of Tuesday’s game in Las Vegas. Loyd left the game and would not return. She was later seen on the bench with crutches and a walking boot.
A couple days later, the Storm put out this press release. The news is….not great.
A ligament sprain can just be stretching of the ankle. But it can also be a tear in the ligament. If there ends up being a tear, it is possible that Loyd could require surgery and would likely be out for the remainder of the 2019 season.
Even if Loyd doesn’t require surgery, the fact that she will be re-evaluated in two weeks likely means she will miss a minimum of three weeks and it could be much worse.
This is particularly devastating news because not only has Loyd been playing at an All-Star level; she was averaging 17 points per game, good for 4th best in the league entering Tuesday’s game. But her play combined with that of Natasha Howard’s had made Seattle a legit playoff contender and with wins against Phoenix, Minnesota, Washington, and Los Angeles, possibly even a title challenge once again.
But with the Storm’s scoring already well under last season’s average with the loss of MVP Breanna Stewart and her 22 points per game, I’m not certain Seattle can withstand losing Loyd’s 17 point average as well. That’s nearly 40 points a game the team could be without for the remainder of the season or at least the next few weeks.
Jewell Loyd has been a constant mainstay in the Storm’s lineup since she was drafted number one overall in 2015. Loyd has never missed a single game in her WNBA career. A streak which will sadly be broken in tonight’s game against Chicago. Loyd had played in 148 consecutive regular-season WNBA games (starting 137 of them) and 10 additional playoff games.
In 2015, Loyd won the Rookie of the Year award, the very first Seattle Storm player to ever win the award. She has been one of the team’s top scorers since entering the league in 2015. Loyd would go on to make her first All-Star team in 2018 and played a pivotal role in helping Seattle return to the playoffs and win their third WNBA Championship last season.
She has been a literal Iron Woman for the franchise since 2015 and her effort and ability will be severely missed on and off the court as the season moves forward.