WNBA star Breanna Stewart suffers possible Achilles injury while playing in Europe

Breanna Stewart of the United States, left, jumps to shoot as Steph Talbot of Australia tries to stop her during the Women's basketball World Cup final match between Australia and the U.S.A. in Tenerife, Spain, Sunday Sept. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Andres Gutierrez)
Breanna Stewart (left) suffered a leg injury Sunday while playing in the EuroLeague. (AP Photo)

Less than a month ahead of the start of the WNBA’s preseason, one of the league’s brightest stars could be out for the year with a devastating injury.

Reigning 2018 MVP Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm suffered an apparent leg injury Sunday while playing for Dynamo Kursk, a Russian EuroLeague team. There’s no official diagnosis yet, but she is feared to have torn her right Achilles tendon.

In the final minute of the first half against UMMC Ekaterinburg, Stewart jumped to make a pass and landed on fellow WNBA star Brittney Griner's foot. Stewart immediately fell to the ground and clutched the back of right leg.

Stewart has quickly risen to become one of the WNBA’s biggest stars in just three seasons. After winning four national championships at UConn, she was drafted first overall in 2016 and won the WNBA MVP and WNBA Finals MVP in 2018.

With the WNBA regular season tipping off on May 24 and ending on September 8, an Achilles injury would certainly wipe out her 2019 campaign. These injuries typically take six months to a year to recover from, although most players do not return at the same level — if they return at all.

Why is Stewart playing in the EuroLeague?

Even as one of the most successful WNBA players, it’s common — if not expected — for many WNBA players to play overseas in addition to the 34-game regular season schedule.

WNBA players have a max salary of $113,500, which is nearly eight times smaller than the NBA minimum. Meanwhile, Stewart is slated to make less than the average WNBA salary (around $75,000) because she is still on her rookie contract.

This leads to players having a nearly year-round schedule, which is not conducive to maintaining ideal health. Although there’s no easy solution, devastating injuries like these would be less common if players had more time off between seasons.

Other WNBA players reach out to Stewart

Plenty of WNBA players and coaches reached out after hearing the news about Stewart’s injury. Here’s a quick look at what several had to say:

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