November 3, 2020 

Sabrina Ionescu undergoes a minor ankle procedure

2020's top pick still on track to return in 2021

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Sabrina Ionescu #20 of the New York Liberty celebrates during the game against the Phoenix Mercury on August 2, 2020 at FeldEntertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images.

On Monday night, the Liberty announced that Sabrina Ionescu returned to New York last week to have a loose bone fragment removed from her left ankle, the same ankle that she sprained back in late July against the Atlanta Dream.

The Liberty rookie’s third-degree ankle sprain kept her off the court for the rest of the 2020 WNBA season in Bradenton, Florida. On August 5, Ionescu left the Wubble to see an ankle and foot specialist in New York, and then she returned to her native California to begin her rehab.

The procedure was performed by Brooklyn Nets and USA Basketball Team Physician Dr. Martin J. O’Malley at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

According to, cartilage, bone, and scar tissue can become free-floating in the ankle joint. If left in there for too long, these “loose bodies” can damage the joint surface and cause higher levels of pain. Dr. O’Malley confirmed that she had a loose fragment that was irritating one of her tendons behind her left ankle.

“Something was poking at her and the doctors looked at it,” General Manager Jonathan Kolb told the AP’s Doug Feinberg. “It was calcified scar tissue and we can take that out.”

Kolb said that the procedure was “minor” and that the doctors found that her ankle had healed from the injury that she sustained in late July. The doctors used a “camera to examine her tendons and ligaments” and determined they healed.

“Sabrina had a minor ankle procedure to remove a loose bone chip that was irritating a tendon behind her ankle,” Dr. O’Malley said in the team’s press release. “This chip that occurred during her sprain in July did not involve the ankle joint cartilage surface and we expect a complete recovery. The ligaments she tore during her injury have all completely healed and there was no need for an ankle ligament stabilization procedure.”

O’Malley performed a “minimally-invasive procedure” to remove the scar tissue behind Ionescu’s ankle. The less painful surgery should yield a quicker recovery time and allow for Ionescu to return to training and rehab once she is cleared again by the team’s medical staff.

“With the long offseason, I am committed to returning in 2021 fully prepared to rejoin my team and jumpstart my WNBA career,” Ionescu said in the team’s release. “My rehab has been going very well and I look forward to getting back on the court.”

Before the procedure, Ionescu was well into her rehab, telling media during a Zoom conference last month that she had begun yoga and Pilates, and was engaging in full days that included cardio, lifts, and basketball workouts.

If all goes according to plan, expect Ionescu to play in the second half of the overseas season in Europe. She’s currently still weighing her options between teams that she had been in contact with before the 2020 WNBA season began.

Written by Jackie Powell

Jackie Powell covers the New York Liberty and runs social media and engagement strategy for The Next. She also has covered women's basketball for Bleacher Report and her work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Harper's Bazaar and SLAM. She also self identifies as a Lady Gaga stan, is a connoisseur of pop music and is a mental health advocate.

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