Breanna Stewart’s Comeback Is Going to Take a Little Longer

Written by on May 9, 2020

Together with the remainder of the world, athletes have had their careers upended by the coronavirus pandemic. They’re giving The New York Instances an intimate take a look at their journeys in periodic installments by means of the remainder of the 12 months.

Over the past decade Breanna Stewart has dominated her sport as few ever have. She received 4 nationwide titles in 4 seasons on the College of Connecticut — and received Most Excellent Participant within the Last 4 every year — earned Olympic gold and was the W.N.B.A.’s Rookie of the Yr in 2016. She led the Seattle Storm to a championship in 2018, successful the Most Beneficial Participant Award alongside the way in which.

That dominance has not been a golden parachute, although. As a professional, the slender, 6-foot-Four Stewart has adopted different elite feminine basketball gamers who play nearly year-round, in overseas leagues in China and Europe to maximise their earnings. Whereas taking part in for a Russian workforce within the 2019 EuroLeague championship sport, Stewart ruptured her proper Achilles’ tendon. After months of inauspicious post-surgery rehab and doubt, she was lastly feeling like herself and readying for her first full season again within the W.N.B.A., which had been scheduled to begin on Might 15. Then the world modified.

This interview has been condensed and frivolously edited for readability.

Coming again after my surgical procedure wasn’t simple. There have been instances I questioned if it was going to work out. In January, I began taking part in once more, and I couldn’t watch for this year’s W.N.B.A. season. It felt just like the league was about to take an actual soar. However first I needed to play in Russia once more. And that’s the place I used to be when impulsively, I started listening to concerning the coronavirus. The factor is, in Russia, I felt like I used to be on the surface of a fishbowl wanting in, like for no matter motive we didn’t know as a lot about what was occurring in the remainder of the world. We had been simply late to the celebration over there.

When did it actually hit me that this was severe? A teammate from Seattle, Sami Whitcomb, her French workforce was supposed to come back play us in Russia. She texted me and stated, “Hey, we’re not coming as a result of we’re anxious if we go to Russia, we’ll get caught and received’t be capable of get again.” That made me actually really feel how severe this was exterior Russia. After which it’s like virtually the following day when the N.B.A. is canceled. Identical to that, we’re all scrambling to get dwelling.

PictureBreanna Stewart rehabbing her injured right Achilles’ tendon in a session last week with Brent George, a physical therapist. “The calf on my injured leg atrophied like crazy and is still about a half-inch smaller than my other one,” she said.
Credit score…Ruth Fremson/The New York Instances
Credit score…Ruth Fremson/The New York Instances
Credit score…Ruth Fremson/The New York Instances

It was like diving straight into the fishbowl. The journey dwelling to the US, I’m simply considering, “I gotta get again, gotta get again, straight away.” It doesn’t matter the flight, I used to be going to take it. I fly from the town the place my workforce is to Moscow, then to Paris, to Boston, and eventually Seattle. From airport to airport I may see the extent of fear rising with every cease. I acquired what I feel was one of many final flights to the U.S. from Paris. Individuals had been anxious, scared, you would see it of their faces. I didn’t have a masks on. I had a shawl, I used to be doing no matter I may to cowl my face, and I had gloves firstly however then my palms acquired so sizzling that I ended up taking them off. No one knew what to assume. You contact your cellphone and also you contact your face, who is aware of what can occur? When somebody would cough, you’re like, “Whoa, do you’ve it?”

Issues acquired far more severe once I acquired dwelling. One in every of my finest mates is Corey Edwards. Corey performed in school and now he coaches highschool in Florida. A number of days after I acquired dwelling to Seattle, his dad died from the coronavirus. His dad was Dave Edwards, who lots of people in basketball learn about, especially in New York. I knew him properly. Not lots of people name me by the nickname “Bree,” mainly solely folks I’m actually near, however he known as me that.

He was in his 40s and lived in New York, and when he was sick no one may very well be with him within the hospital. I needed to be there however couldn’t. New York was a madhouse. For some time it appeared like he was getting higher. His fever was happening. After which, properly, it spiraled uncontrolled.



It was so painful when Corey’s father handed. I feel it’s hitting me much more now than when it first occurred. Proper now, I’m simply attempting to be there for one among my finest mates. When this occurs to somebody you care about, it places the whole lot into a complete totally different sort of perspective. I may not be capable of play basketball for some time, and when it’s all stated and performed, with my harm, it is likely to be two years earlier than I play one other season. However Corey, he can’t see his father once more.

Credit score…Ruth Fremson/The New York Instances

Don’t get me unsuitable, I miss basketball like loopy. It’s not solely what I do for a occupation, it’s what I really like, even the straightforward feeling of a ball in my palms. If I may, I’d go and follow free throws all on my own, however there’s nowhere to do this and I’m taking this actually severely, so I keep inside as a lot as attainable. I get out for walks generally. The neighborhood the place I reside is normally tremendous busy, however now it feels deserted and eerie. I do drive to rehab my leg a few instances every week. Obtained to maintain it sturdy. The calf on my injured leg atrophied like loopy and continues to be a couple of half-inch smaller than my different one.

I reside in a two-bedroom residence in downtown Seattle. My mother is my roommate proper now and I’ve Stew, my Aussiedoodle, who wakes me up early each morning, eager to go for a stroll. To be sincere, this quarantine life is similar to lifetime of an abroad girls’s basketball participant in a spot like Russia. You get caught inside rather a lot. You textual content, watch a lot of Netflix. Numerous display time. I’ve watched the video of the harm. I watched our 2018 W.N.B.A. semifinal sequence, Seattle towards Phoenix, a bunch of instances. I’ve performed in loads of nice video games, however Game 5 of that sequence was most likely one of the best sport I’ve ever performed in.

A number of the N.B.A. guys, they’re hooping at the gym in their houses. Me? I can’t hoop in any respect. I can’t precisely put up a hoop in my apartment. I don’t assume that’s going to go over that properly. However I’ll discover myself randomly grabbing a ball, spinning it, simply to really feel that feeling. Typically I’ll even find yourself dribbling within the apartment as a result of that’s all I’ve proper now. The folks beneath me, hopefully they don’t thoughts.

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