Steph Curry, daughters on hand for Sabrina Ionescu's 25th triple-double

ByMechelle Voepel ESPN logo
Saturday, February 22, 2020

BERKELEY, Calif. --Stephen Currybrought his young daughters to see their first women's basketball game on Friday, and Oregon's Sabrina Ionescu put on another terrific performance in a 93-61 victory over Cal.

The Golden State Warriors star was on hand at Cal's Haas Pavilion with daughters Riley and Ryan -- along with many fans clad in Oregon green -- to see Ionescu as she returned to play Friday near her hometown of Walnut Creek, California. They witnessed Ionescu's 25th career triple-double -- 17 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.

"It's special just having so many people who haven't seen me get [a triple-double] live and be able to be in the building and watch it," Ionescu said in a postgame interview with the Pac-12 Network. "But at the end of the day, as long as we're winning, that's all that matters."

Ionescu moved closer to the 2,000-point, 1,000-rebound, 1,000-assist career milestone that no Division I player ever has reached. At 991 rebounds, she is now nine away; she already has 2,446 points and 1,029 assists.

Ionescu could get there on Monday as the No. 3 Ducks take on No. 4 Stanford (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2/ESPN App). Before that game, though, Ionescu is scheduled to speak at the memorial for Kobe and Gianna Bryant at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Monday morning and then return to the Bay Area.

Ionescu said she expects Monday to be "filled with emotions."

"Just there to honor them and everything that they've done for me," Ionescu told the Pac-12 Network of memorializing Bryant and his daughter, both of whom Ionescu had gotten to know well before their deaths Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash. The memorial date of Feb. 24 is notable too, as Bryant's second NBA number was 24, and Gianna wore 2 in youth basketball.

"Monday is going to be a difficult day for her to speak at the memorial for Kobe and Gianna" Oregon coach Kelly Graves said of Ionescu. "But what a great opportunity and a great privilege and a great honor. And then to have to fly up and then play what is going to be a really big game on Monday night. But if there's anybody that can handle something like that, it's her.

"She'll use it as fuel. It wouldn't surprise me if she has a game for the ages that night, because that's how she's wired."

Perhaps, she'll hit 2K/1K/1K and add Stanford to the list of teams she has tallied triple-doubles against. With Friday's triple-double at Cal, Ionescu now has accomplished that feat against eight of the Pac-12 schools. The only ones she hasn't done it against are Stanford, Oregon State and Arizona State. She could face the Beavers and/or the Sun Devils in the postseason.

Other than her on-court, postgame interview with the Pac-12 Network, Ionescu didn't meet with the media Friday night because she had so many family members in attendance -- and Graves wanted her to spend time with them. But first, when the game ended, Ionescu ran to the baseline and embraced Curry and his children. She has attended Warriors games for years, and she and Curry are friends. Curry said he isn't certain his daughters will play basketball, but he still sees Ionescu as a role model for them regardless.

"I'm sure she never thought she'd be in this position ... well, maybe she did," Curry told of Ionescu's soaring popularity. "It's amazing to see what she's made of herself. And it's amazing what she's done on the court. How that's transformed the attention and awareness of where the women's game is."

Curry -- who told the Pac-12 Network it was the first women's basketball game for his daughters -- played just three games this NBA season before suffering a fracture of the second metacarpal of his left hand on Oct. 30 that required surgery. He returned to practice this week with Golden State, although he was wearing a no-contact jersey. The Warriors have said they will update his status on March 1; he might return to the court later in March.

"I'm working my butt off to try and get out there," Curry told the Pac-12 network. "There's 25 games left. Hopefully, I get to play a good amount of them."

Meanwhile, Curry took the opportunity on Friday to check out the Sabrina Show. Curry also told Pac-12 Network that what he enjoys most about watching Ionescu is her passion and leadership.

"Every night she just appreciates being on the floor and bringing it," Curry said. "Triple-doubles are nice too, but she has it all."

As for why NBA players such as himself and Kobe Bryant appreciated Ionescu's game, Curry said, "The eye test when you see her out on the floor. Stats, they mean a lot. But when you get to watching somebody and see the passion that she brings, it's in her eyes.

"The competitive nature that she has, you can't teach that."

Graves isn't surprised to hear pros speak admirably of Ionescu's game.

"She gets so much credit from other great players ... they just appreciate greatness, and she is a great player," Graves said. "She's so passionate, so smart, she plays the game the same every night. It doesn't matter who we play, she plays hard."