UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Brittney Griner and Elena Delle Donne were poised to make history as the first pair of rookies from the same class to start the WNBA All-Star game.
Now, neither will be playing Saturday as both are sidelined with injuries. Griner has been saddled by a sprained left knee, which has forced her to miss the Phoenix Mercury's last five games. Delle Donne suffered a concussion in the Sky's game on Wednesday and didn't even make the trip to Connecticut. She's home in Delaware.
"Definitely sad that I can't play," Griner said. "There's nothing I can do about that. Day-by-day, that's my motto. I'm not a trainer, so I'd probably be lying anyway. I'm also sad that Elena can't be here."
It's a tough blow for the league, which has been marketing the two budding stars along with Skylar Diggins since they were drafted with the top three picks in April.
Delle Donne was the leading vote-getter, marking the first time a rookie has led the balloting.
"It's unfortunate that I am unable to be a part of All-Star weekend," Delle Donne said. "I was very excited to join the other players for a memorable experience. It's upsetting not only for me but also for the fans who voted for me. The most important thing for me at this time is to rest and recover for the second half of the season."
It's not just the rookies who aren't playing on Saturday afternoon on ABC.
Veterans Sue Bird, Lauren Jackson and Becky Hammon — perennial All-Stars — have been sidelined with a variety of injuries. Bird and Hammon have played in every All-Star game since 2003.
FOND FAREWELL — Seattle star Tina Thompson will be playing in her final All-Star game. Thompson previously announced she will retire after the season.
The 17-year veteran has played in a record nine All-Star games and was a last-minute injury replacement for Brittney Griner. She joked on Thursday that she would have "appreciated the break," but was happy to be part of the festivities one last time.
"I'll try not to get sentimental with it, it's definitely an honor to be here," Thompson said. "To have been here since the start and see this league grow is really amazing."
The 38-year old Thompson is the league's all-time leader in points, field goals and minutes. She was the first player selected in the inaugural WNBA college draft and was chosen as one of the league's top 15 players all-time during the WNBA's 15th season.
Thompson addressed the fans after the West practiced and received a standing ovation from the crowd.
"It's special that she's here for the final time," West coach Cheryl Reeve said. "She's been a big part of this league's success."
Diana Taurasi took it a step further, saying "every WNBA arena should retire her jersey."
RETURN OF REF CAM — Official Lamont Simpson became an overnight sensation when he wore the referee cam during a nationally televised game in June.
The veteran official will don it again for the All-Star game on Saturday.
|Boston - WP: M. Ott||4||FINAL|
|Minnesota - LP: M. Hoffman||3|
|UC Santa Barbara||38|
|San Diego St||73|
|Utah Valley U||83|
|Cal State Fullerton||56||FINAL|
|Long Beach State||66|
|Sam Houston St||70|
|New Mexico St||70|
|Miss Valley St||68||FINAL|
|(22) Middle Tennessee||69|
|William & Mary||65|