Sports

Sparks prepare to play rest of season without star rookie Cameron Brink, who tore her ACL

NEW YORK — (AP) — Kia Nurse offered words of encouragement to her Los Angeles Sparks teammate Cameron Brink.

The veteran guard knows exactly what the rookie is going through, having torn her ACL in 2021. Brink tore the ACL in her left knee in Tuesday's loss to Connecticut. She's still talking to doctors to figure out when she'll have surgery, coach Curt Miller said after the team's shootaround Thursday before a game against New York.

“What happened to Cam was unfortunate and I've been there, I feel for her,” Nurse said. “We've got her in our hearts and prayers as she goes through this. She'll be around us when she can be.”

Nurse said she's talked to Brink a few times already and offered to be a sounding board for questions that the 22-year-old center may have.

“I know the ACL process is very different for each and every person that goes through it,” Nurse said. “There were some commonalities that I was grateful to have other people tell me about before surgery. I'm here with her and supporting her. There are a lot of emotions that go through it. You literally go through a wave of emotions for about a year straight.”

Brink's rookie season ended after 15 games and she was averaging 8.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. Miller said her value to the Sparks went well beyond her stats.

“The thing you hear first and foremost from our players is they are going to miss the positivity,” he said. “They are going to miss the presence she brought on a daily basis that allowed us to smile. She was a sponge and remarkable being able to be very conscious that she needed to learn a lot more and was willing to grow.”

Brink wasn't at shootaround and wrote in a post to Instagram Wednesday her thoughts on the injury.

“You never think it will happen to you. And despite all the hard work sometimes it does," she said. "This is hard to fathom but I know it will only make me stronger,” Brink said. “I will not be derailed and I will continue to love this life — I’m not defined by basketball, but it is something that I love deeply and I will work everyday to get back to it. It’s not goodbye basketball it’s just a see you later. I’m always so thankful for your thoughts and prayers.”

Brink is on the U.S. 3x3 team for the Paris Olympics and a replacement will have to be selected.

“Our thoughts are with Cameron as we wish her a speedy recovery. As a result of Cam’s injury, USA Basketball will begin the process of selecting an athlete to join the 2024 USA 3x3 Women’s National Team,” USA Basketball said in a statement. “We hope to see Cam back on the court and representing the red, white and blue soon.”

It’s the second consecutive Olympics that the U.S. team will have to replace one of its original players. Katie Lou Samuelson missed the 2021 Tokyo Games after she caught COVID right before the Olympics. She was replaced by Jackie Young, who helped the team go on to win a gold medal.

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AP WNBA: https://apnews.com/hub/wnba-basketball

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