Washington Mystics star Kristi Toliver will miss the rest of the season after tearing a cruciate ligament, coach Eric Thibault confirmed on Tuesday.
Toliver suffered a non-contact knee injury late in the Mystics’ 72-64 loss to the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday night after attempting to move just past half-court. She was then carried out of the courtroom and did not return.
The 36-year-old has only played 11 games this season after missing much of the year with plantar fasciitis. She only played 11 games last season and only 19 in the 2021 season due to various injuries.
“I won’t lie: I’m emotionally shocked,” said Elena Delle Donne from Washington after the injury. via the Washington Post. “You try to do the whole thing where you want to get involved [Toliver], but we were sick. only sick. What she’s been through with her foot, how much she’s worked to get better – and she’s fine. She’s even talking about next year and all that stuff. To see something like that happening at this point in her career just sucks. … She is such a great person. So it’s brutal.”
Toliver has averaged 3.6 points this season and played just nine minutes a game, her first comeback with Washington after two years with the Las Vegas Aces. Toliver first joined the Mystics in 2017 and received two of their three career All-Star awards during that three-year tenure. Toliver also helped the club win the title in DC in 2019. It’s unclear how long Toliver will be sidelined.
Toliver also worked as an assistant coach for the Washington Wizards and Dallas Mavericks. According to guard Brittney Sykes, one of the reasons her injury was so devastating to the team is that the team has now lost the experienced lead.
“It’s so much more than just ‘OK, she’s a player’s coach,’ like she’s also a player’s player,” Sykes said. via ESPN. “And she knows how to reach out to us when we might not be able to reach out. If that’s missing, I mean you’ve seen it, we’ve all broken down. That shit broke our hearts because it was so important.” She’s for us. She’s a silent assassin. She doesn’t say much, but when she opens her mouth, it’s like, ‘Shit, shut up and listen.'”
The Mystics finished Sunday’s game with just seven healthy players and had lost starters Ariel Atkins and Shakira Austin last week to nose and hip injuries, respectively. Washington, who have lost four of their last six games, go into Tuesday’s game against the Phoenix Mercury with a record of 17-20. The Mystics sit seventh in the league with three games remaining in the regular season and are yet to secure a playoff spot.