Elena Delle Donne is undeniably an asset to the Mystics. She was named the 2019 WNBA MVP and contributed to the Mystic’s first championship title last year, even as she played on an injured back. However, this season is a whole new environment, and the Washington Mystics star finds herself in a sticky situation. Delle Donne has struggled with Lyme disease ever since 2008, raising concerns for her about the implications of potentially contracting covid-19 as well. Delle Donne has requested to sit out this year’s seasons citing medical concerns, however, the WNBA’s panel of doctors have allegedly denied her requests to do so.
The panel of doctors were league and WNBPA approved, and they claim that she is not in fact, at high-risk, and should continue to play. In response, Delle Donne had this to say:
“I love my team, and we had an unbelievable season last year, and I want to play! But the question is whether or not the WNBA bubble is safe for me. My personal physician who has treated me for Lyme disease for years advised me that I’m at high risk for contracting and having complications from COVID-19.”
According to the CDC, Lyme disease is not an underlying condition that could increase susceptibility to covid-19. However, Delle Donne recently opened up about what it was like living with Lyme disease as a professional basketball player. In an essay in The Players Tribune, she revealed that she has to consume 64 pills per day to be able to function normally, let alone, play basketball.
Delle Donne has not yet flown out to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, where her and her teammates start their season on the 25th of this month. Delle Donne’s agent, Erin Kane, told ESPN that she is still deciding on whether or not she wants to participate in this year’s WNBA season or not. If she does not play, Delle Donne has speculated to CNN that she believes she will not be paid and will not get most of her endorsements. However, Mystic head coach and manager Mike Thibault told CNN that that is up in the air, and while they “…intended to [pay her] from the start […] I don’t want to speculate what that’s going to look like in four to six weeks.”