WNBA Star Sabrina Ionescu Honors Late Mentor Kobe Bryant After Game-Winning 3-Pointer

New York Liberty's Sabrina Ionescu hit the winning shot during Friday's WNBA season opener

Sabrina Ionescu
Photo: Sarah Stier/Getty Images

WNBA star Sabrina Ionescu's dreams came true on Friday night.

During the league's season opener, the New York Liberty player led her team to a 90-87 victory over the Indiana Fever when she hit a 3-point shot with less than one second remaining in the game.

Turns out, the 23-year-old athlete had a dream the night prior that it would happen.

"I actually, not going to lie at all, dreamt about it last night," Ionescu told reporters after the game, CNN reported.

Ionescu, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 WNBA draft, continued, "I try not to think about basketball too much the night before a game because I get nervous and don't sleep. But I 100% had envisioned hitting a game winner. So when we were tied, and walking into the huddle, I just was smiling because it was almost like too good to be true. I was like, I'm going to hit this if the coaches draw up a play for me to get the ball."

Prior to the game, the star wore the late Kobe Bryant's Lakers jersey — a tribute to her friend and mentor who tragically died in a helicopter crash in January 2020 alongside his daughter Gianna and seven others.

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Sabrina Ionescu
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

On her Instagram Story, Ionescu shared that Vanessa Bryant offered her some motivational advice prior to the game: "'Don't Efff Up.'" Ionescu's response? "Yes ma'am."

"Yup!" Vanessa confirmed on her own Instagram Story. "'Especially if you're wearing Kobe's shoes!' Congratulations!!!! I told you you got this!"

Vanessa Bryant and Sabrina Ionescu
Vanessa Bryant/Instagram

In addition to the impressive 3-point shot, Ionescu scored 25 points, 11 assists, six rebounds and two turnovers during Friday's matchup.

"My coaches believed in me. My team believed in me," she told reporters after the game. "I was just ready for the moment. I've been waiting a while to get back on the court. I'm just so happy that we were able to get this win."

"She has a pretty special way of rising to the moment. You get to see it every day in practice," Liberty coach Walt Hopkins added, according to ESPN. "Those big-time situations is where she shines, it's what she lives for. I'm pretty excited she's on my team."

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