Washington Mystics star Kristi Toliver will miss the rest of the season after she tore her cruciate ligament, coach Eric Thibault confirmed Tuesday.
Toliver suffered a non-contact knee injury near the end of the Mystics’ 72-64 loss to the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday night after attempting a move just past halfway down the field. She was then carried off the court and did not return.
The 36-year-old has played just 11 games this season, having missed much of the year due to plantar fasciitis. Last season she only played 11 matches and in the 2021 season only 19 due to several injuries.
“I’m not going to lie: I’m emotionally shocked,” Washington’s Elena Delle Donne said after the injury. “You try to do the whole thing that you want to compete for [Toliver], but we were sick. Just sick. What she’s been through with her foot, how much she’s worked to get back – and she feels good. She talks about even next year and all those things. To see something like this happen at this point in her career just sucks. … She is such a wonderful person. So it’s cruel.”
Toliver averaged 3.6 points and played just nine minutes per game this season, her first return to Washington after a two-year stint with the Las Vegas Aces. Toliver first joined the Mystics in 2017, earning two of her three career All-Star titles during that three-year span. Toliver also helped the club to a DC title in 2019. It is unclear how long Toliver will be sidelined.
Toliver also worked as an assistant coach for the Washington Wizards and Dallas Mavericks. Part of the reason her injury was so devastating to the team, guard Brittney Sykes said, is because they’ve now lost experienced leadership.
“It’s much more than just, ‘Okay, she’s a player’s coach,’ as if she’s also a player’s player,” said Sykes. “And she knows how to reach us when we may not be able to reach each other. So to miss that, I mean you saw it, we all broke down. This broke our hearts because of how crucial she is. against us. She is a silent assassin. She doesn’t say much, but when she opens her mouth, it’s like, ‘S**t, shut up and listen.'”
The Mystics finished Sunday’s game with only seven healthy players, having lost starters Ariel Atkins and Shakira Austin to a nose and hip injury, respectively, last week. Washington, which has lost four of its last six, goes into Tuesday’s game against the Phoenix Mercury with a 17-20 record. The Mystics are seventh in the standings with three games remaining in the regular season, and have yet to clinch a playoff spot.