Well, this sucks. Seattle Storm forward and reigning WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart is probably going to miss the entirety of the upcoming season, because she tore her Achilles while playing for Russian team Dynamo Kursk in the EuroLeague title game on Sunday.
In the second quarter of that game, Stewart got a handoff from a screener and went up to take a midrange shot. She got challenged by Brittany Griner and landed on Griner’s foot. As soon as Stewart went down, she was clearly in some serious pain.
A freak injury like this one can, of course, happen at any time. But for women’s players, the risk of hurting oneself can be compounded by the fact that many of them choose to play overseas so they can make more money than their decidedly middle-class WNBA contracts. Stewart, still on her rookie deal, is set to make just $64,538 this season as a member of the Storm. On Dynamo Kursk, she likely made many times that amount. Stewart was already a casualty of doubled-up seasons back in 2017, when she suffered an injured knee while playing in China, though that was relatively minor.
Said WNBA vet Lindsey Harding back in 2017, “You look at the NBA, they play 82 games. We may play that amount of games, but we don’t get time off. If you’re lucky, you get a week off after playing overseas to start in the WNBA and maybe a week off to go back overseas.”
The loss of Stewart is a huge blow not just to the Storm, but to the game as a whole, since she’s been one of the most enjoyable players to watch in the world ever since she burst onto the scene as a UConn Husky in 2012 and won four straight championships and three straight Player of the Years. Last year, as a 23-year-old, she averaged 21.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game to help lead the Storm to the WNBA title, where she won Finals MVP to go with her first regular season MVP.