The Oregon Duck Reunites with Sabrina Ionescu in New York City

Former Oregon Ducks women's basketball players Sabrina Ionescu and Nyara Sabally got a visit from a familiar face during the New York Liberty's game against the Washington Mystics.  
Feb 11, 2023; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Oregon Ducks mascot Puddles leads a cheer during a time out in the first half against the UCLA Bruins at Matthew Knight Arena.
Feb 11, 2023; Eugene, Oregon, USA; Oregon Ducks mascot Puddles leads a cheer during a time out in the first half against the UCLA Bruins at Matthew Knight Arena. / Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

EUGENE - Former Oregon Ducks and current WNBA stars for the New York Liberty, Sabrina Ionescu and Nyara Sabally, got a surprise visit from the Oregon Duck on Sunday during a matchup between the New York Liberty and the Washington Mystics.   

"I did like a triple take," Ionescu told reporters after the Liberty's 93-88 victory over the Washington Mystics. "I was on the court like, is that who I think it is?"   

The last time Ionescu saw the Oregon Ducks mascot was at her wedding in March, where it made the guestlist.  

"The Duck is just the best of the best."  

Sabrina Ionescu

Drafted first overall by the New York Liberty on April 17, 2020, Ionescu became a cornerstone for the team. Two years later, the Liberty added another talented player from the University of Oregon, Nyara Sabally. Sabally was selected with the fifth pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft. However, her debut was delayed due to injury. She officially joined Ionescu on the court in February 2023 after signing her rookie contract.  

New York Liberty forward Nyara Sabally and guard Sabrina Ionescu pose with the Commissioner's Cup.
Aug 15, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; New York Liberty forward Nyara Sabally (8) and guard Sabrina Ionescu (20) pose with the Commissioner's Cup after defeating the Las Vegas Aces at Michelob Ultra Arena. / Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to Ionescu and Sabally's professional careers in the WNBA, they helped lead the Oregon Ducks women's basketball program to a historic run in 2020 when their national championship dreams came to an end due to the COVID-19 pandemic.   

"It appears our 'unfinished business' will remain just that. Disappointed, but I completely understand. I love and I hurt for my team." coach Kelly Graves said at the time.

Oregon head coach Kelly Graves looks on during player introductions as the Oregon Ducks host the No. 4 Stanford Cardinal.
Oregon head coach Kelly Graves looks on during player introductions as the Oregon Ducks host the No. 4 Stanford Cardinal Saturday, March 2, 2024, at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Ore. / Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard / USA

The Ducks were having an incredible season, clinching their third straight Pac-12 regular-season conference title and winning the Pac-12 conference tournament in Las Vegas.   

Oregon was a top contender for the NCAA national championship. The Ducks finished the season 31-2, 15-0 at home, and ended the season on a 19-game win streak. They also had an average margin of victory of 26 points.  

Oregon Ducks guard Sabrina Ionescu and forward Satou Sabally celebrate after a game against Mississippi State.
Mar 31, 2019; Portland, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks guard Sabrina Ionescu (20) and forward Satou Sabally (0) celebrate after a game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the championship game of the Portland regional in the women's 2019 NCAA Tournament at Moda Center. The Oregon Ducks beat the Mississippi State Bulldogs 88-84. / Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

"There won't be another group like this, ever," said Graves. "We might have equally impressive teams, but what this group did to capture the imagination and the attention and the love of a new fan base was incredible."  

Although fun and silly, the Oregon Duck's appearance at Sabally and Ionescu's game also served as a reminder of how Sabally, Ionescu, and their teammates propelled the University of Oregon to become a force in the world of women's basketball.   


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Olivia Cleary

OLIVIA CLEARY