Toliver went down with a non-contact knee injury near the end of the Mystics’ 72-64 loss to the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday night after trying to make a move just past half court. She was then carried off the court, and did not return.
The 36-year-old has played in just 11 games this season after missing much of the year with plantar fasciitis. She only played in 11 games last season, and only 19 during the 2021 season due to various injuries.
“I’m not going to lie: Emotionally, I’m shocked,” Washington’s Elena Delle Donne said after the injury, . “You try to do the whole thing where you want to rally 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’s feeling good. She’s talking about even next year and all those things. To see something like that happen at this point in her career, it just sucks. … She’s such a great person. So it’s brutal.”
Toliver has averaged 3.6 points and played just nine minutes per game this season, her first back with Washington after a two-year run with the Las Vegas Aces. Toliver first joined the Mystics in 2017, and she picked up two of her three career All-Star nods during that three-year run. Toliver helped the club win a title in D.C. in 2019, too. It’s unclear how long Toliver will be sidelined.
Toliver also worked as an assistant coach for the Washington Wizards and Dallas Mavericks. Part of why her injury was so devastating for the team, guard Brittney Sykes said, is because they’ve now lost that veteran leadership.
“It’s much more than just, ‘OK, she’s a player’s coach,’ like she’s a player’s player, too,” Sykes said, . “And she knows how to get to us when maybe we can’t get to each other. So to have that missing, I mean, you saw it, we all broke down. This s— broke our hearts because of how crucial she is to us. She’s a quiet assassin. She don’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 just seven healthy players and had lost starters Ariel Atkins and Shakira Austin with a nose and hip injury, respectively, last week. Washington, which has lost four of its last six, enters Tuesday’s game against the Phoenix Mercury with a 17-20 record. The Mystics sit in seventh in the league standings with three games left in the regular season, and have yet to clinch a playoff spot.