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Liberty's Asia Durr Cleared to Play After Missing 2 Seasons Because of COVID-19

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVNovember 16, 2021

AP Photo/Jessica Hill

New York Liberty star Asia Durr announced Monday on Instagram Live she has been cleared to return to the WNBA.

Myles @MylesEhrlich

On IG Live, <a href="https://twitter.com/A_Hooper25?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@A_Hooper25</a> just announced that she has officially been CLEARED to play basketball again! She has missed the past two <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WNBA?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WNBA</a> seasons while suffering the long-hauler effects of COVID. Incredible news for Asia, for the <a href="https://twitter.com/nyliberty?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@nyliberty</a>, and for basketball fans. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/OwnTheCrown?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#OwnTheCrown</a> <a href="https://t.co/m1FoQIvYJz">pic.twitter.com/m1FoQIvYJz</a>

The 5'10" guard has missed the past two seasons due to prolonged effects from COVID-19. The No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 WNBA draft, she averaged 9.7 points and 1.7 assists as a rookie.

With the league planning to stage an abbreviated 2020 season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, Durr announced that July she was opting out because of a "complicated and arduous" recovery from COVID-19:

Asia Durr @A_Hooper25

Stay Safe ✊🏽❀️ -AD <a href="https://t.co/StcOHWMBML">pic.twitter.com/StcOHWMBML</a>

In an interview with HBO's Real Sports that aired in January, she detailed more about her complications.

"I couldn't breathe. I was spitting up blood," she said (via Sports Illustrated's Michael Shapiro). "[I had] lung pain that was just so severe. It felt like somebody took a long knife and was stabbing you in your lungs each second. I woke up two o'clock in the morning vomiting, going back and forth to the bathroom."

The former Louisville standout also said she had lost 32 pounds.

Citing a "personal decision," the Liberty placed Durr on the full season suspended list in May, which meant she'd be out for the entirety of the year.

That status allowed New York to roll Durr's contract over to 2022. Per Her Hoops Stats, she's due to earn $72,141 before hitting restricted free agency in 2023.

The team has undergone a lot of changes since her last appearance in August 2019.

Sabrina Ionescu is positioned as the franchise cornerstone. Betnijah Laney built upon her 2020 Most Improved Player Award to make her first All-Star team in 2021. Sami Whitcomb thrived in a larger role than she typically occupied with the Seattle Storm. DiDi Richards more than warranted her regular role in the rotation.

None of those four was on the team in 2019, and they all figure to remain consistent contributors in 2022. Carving out her place on the Liberty could be difficult for Durr.

But simply having the opportunity to play represents a major step forward following her ordeal.

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