New York Liberty
The New York Liberty are a professional basketball team based in the New York metropolitan area, playing in the Eastern Conference in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). The team was founded in 1997 and is one of the eight original franchises of the league. The team is owned by Joe Tsai. For 2019, home games are primarily played at Westchester County Center in White Plains, New York, with two games at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY
|New York Liberty|
|History||New York Liberty|
|Arena||Westchester County Center|
|Location||White Plains, New York|
|Team colors||Green, black, orange, blue, white|
|Head coach||Katie Smith|
|Conference titles||4 (1997, 1999, 2000, 2002)|
The Liberty have qualified for the WNBA Playoffs in fourteen of its twenty years. The franchise has been home to many well-known players such as Teresa Weatherspoon, Becky Hammon, Leilani Mitchell, Essence Carson, and Cappie Pondexter. Through the 2016 season, the Liberty have four conference championships and have played in the WNBA Finals four times, falling to the Houston Comets in 1997, 1999, and 2000, and losing to the Los Angeles Sparks in 2002. They have the most appearances in the WNBA Finals without a championship.
Early success (1997–2002)Edit
Prior to the team's first season, to avoid potential trademark infringement, the team purchased the trademarks of the defunct Liberty Basketball Association.
When the WNBA opened in 1997, the Liberty were one of the first teams to choose a player, and they signed college superstar Rebecca Lobo (University of Connecticut) to a contract. Lobo was a starter for two seasons but was injured in 1999, and her injuries eventually led to her retirement several seasons later. Point guard Teresa Weatherspoon emerged as a star and the Liberty made it to the 1997 championship game, where the team lost to the Houston Comets. In 1999, they added Crystal Robinson with the 6th overall pick and returned to the WNBA Finals, where they again faced the Comets. In Game 2, Teresa Weatherspoon's halfcourt shot at the buzzer gave the Liberty a one-point road win that tied the series at a game apiece. However, the Liberty lost the third game of the series and the Comets became champions for a third straight time.
In 2000, the Liberty traded for Tari Phillips who blossomed in New York and made four straight All-Star teams. In 2001, Weatherspoon became the WNBA's all-time assist leader. Teamed with Robinson, Phillips and an emerging Sue Wicks, who was once a back-up to Lobo at forward but made the 2000 All-Star game, Weatherspoon and the Liberty subsequently returned to the finals in 2000 and 2002, but lost once again to the Comets and to the Los Angeles Sparks, respectively. The Liberty also advanced to the WNBA Eastern Conference Finals in 2001.
Transition seasons (2003–2009)Edit
2003 marked a transition for the Liberty and with team leader Teresa Weatherspoon's WNBA career winding down, fan favorite Becky Hammon emerged as a star player. The 2004 season saw Hammon replacing Weatherspoon as the team's starting point guard.
The Liberty played six of their home games during the 2004 season at Radio City Music Hall as Madison Square Garden was hosting the 2004 Republican National Convention. These games marked the first time Radio City had hosted a professional sporting event since the Roy Jones Jr. boxing match held in 1999.
With team leader Tari Phillips being signed away to the Houston Comets, Ann Wauters emerged as a force at the team's starting center position in 2005. However, she was unfortunately injured midway through the season. The loss of Wauters was felt as the team was swept two games to none by the Indiana Fever in the first round of the playoffs.
The Liberty had a poor 2006 season, winning only 11 games, the fewest in franchise history.
At the beginning of the 2007 WNBA season, the team traded Becky Hammon to the San Antonio Silver Stars for Jessica Davenport, a first round pick in the 2007 WNBA Draft. They also acquired center Janel McCarville through the dispersal draft associated with the dissolution of the Charlotte Sting. The 2007 Liberty started out 5–0, then lost 7 straight games, then rallied at the end of the season to get the last playoff spot by winning 3 out of their last 4 games, beating the Washington Mystics on the tiebreaker of head-to-head record. In the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Liberty, as huge underdogs, faced the defending champion Detroit Shock in a best-of-three series. The Liberty defeated the Shock by winning Game 1 in New York. In Games 2 and 3 the Liberty lost both games to the Shock in Detroit, 76–73 and 71–70 (OT) respectively.
In 2008, the Liberty drafted former Rutgers shooting guard Essence Carson and former University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill forward Erlana Larkins, and signed former University of Utah point guard Leilani Mitchell during the preseason. Despite having the youngest average age of any WNBA team, the Liberty managed to win 19 regular season games in 2008, to defeat the Connecticut Sun in the first round of playoff action, and to come within two points of defeating the Detroit Shock in the third and last game of the Eastern Conference Finals. Again, the Detroit series entailed a Liberty victory at home in Game 1, followed by narrow defeats away in Games 2 and 3. The 2008 season also featured the "Liberty Outdoor Classic", the first ever professional regular season basketball game to be played outdoors, on July 19 at Arthur Ashe Stadium of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The Indiana Fever defeated the Liberty in the Outdoor Classic.
In the 2009 season, however, they never proved to be a contender and the team fired head coach Pat Coyle. To replace Coyle, the Liberty hired then-Liberty assistant coach Anne Donovan on an interim basis. Despite the coaching change, the franchise continued to struggle, finishing 13–21, their second worst record in franchise history.
The Cappie Pondexter era (2010–2014)Edit
The New York Liberty fared better in 2010, during Donovan's first and only full season as head coach. Led by newly signed high scorer Cappie Pondexter (formerly of the Phoenix Mercury) and the 2010 Most Improved Player Award winner Leilani Mitchell, the team made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they lost to the Atlanta Dream.
The team had high hopes for 2011, after the hiring of former WNBA champion head coach John Whisenant. Janel McCarville did not report to training camp, seeking time with her family, and as such, was suspended for the duration of the 2011 season. This caused division and discord within the New York Liberty fanbase. Kia Vaughn was unexpectedly thrust into the role of starting Center.
The Liberty were originally scheduled to be displaced from their usual home court due to renovations at Madison Square Garden scheduled to begin in 2009. However, the renovation plans were delayed, and the Liberty played at the Garden in 2009 and 2010. The Liberty ended up playing in the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey for their 2011, 2012, and 2013 seasons while the renovations were ongoing.
Pondexter and Plenette Pierson, along with improved play from Vaughn, allowed New York to be competitive early in the 2011 season. The team went into the All-Star break in third place in the Eastern Conference. In August, Sidney Spencer was traded to the Phoenix Mercury in exchange for Kara Braxton. By maintaining a fairly even standard of play, the Liberty made their way into the WNBA Playoffs. However, the Liberty fell to the Indiana Fever in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Isiah Thomas takes over (2015–present)Edit
On May 5, 2015, the Liberty hired Thomas as Team President overseeing all business and basketball operations of the franchise. Under Thomas' leadership as team president and the coaching staff led by Bill Laimbeer as head coach, the Liberty finished first in the Eastern Conference during the 2015 season.
On August 2, 2015, during halftime at the game against the Seattle Storm, the New York Liberty inducted WNBA legend Becky Hammon into the Liberty's Ring of Honor. Thomas presented Hammon with her ring during the induction ceremony at Madison Square Garden. Hammon, a former New York Liberty point guard is currently an NBA assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs.
In November 2017, The Madison Square Garden Company and James L. Dolan announced they were actively looking to sell the franchise. After not immediately finding a buyer, MSG relocated most of the Liberty's 2018 home games to Westchester County Center in nearby White Plains, New York, the home of MSG's NBA G League team the Westchester Knicks, while still continuing to pursue a sale. On January 23, 2019, the Liberty were sold to Joseph Tsai, co-founder of the Alibaba Group, a Chinese internet titan and part-owner of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets.
|New York Liberty statistics|
New York Liberty roster
Other rights ownedEdit
|Nationality||Name||Years pro||Last played||Drafted|
- Elena Baranova (2003–2005)
- Sherill Baker (2006–2007)
- Kelsey Bone (2013), now a member of the Phoenix Mercury
- Essence Carson (2008–2015), now a member of the Los Angeles Sparks
- Swin Cash (2014–2016)
- Shameka Christon (2004–2009)
- Jessica Davenport (2007–2008)
- Barbara Farris (2006–2007)
- Kisha Ford (1997–1998)
- Becky Hammon (1999–2006), now an assistant coach of the San Antonio Spurs
- Kym Hampton (1997–1999), now Fan Development Leader for the Liberty
- Lindsey Harding (2016)
- Tiffany Jackson Jones (2007–2010), now a member of the Los Angeles Sparks
- Vickie Johnson (1997–2005), now the head coach for the San Antonio Stars
- Cathrine Kraayeveld (2005–2009)
- Rebecca Lobo (1997–2001)
- Janel McCarville (2007–2010), now a member of the Minnesota Lynx
- Taj McWilliams-Franklin (2010)
- DeLisha Milton-Jones (2013–2014)
- Leilani Mitchell (2008–2013), now a member of the Phoenix Mercury
- Loree Moore (2005–2009)
- Tari Phillips (2000–2004)
- Cappie Pondexter (2010–2014), now a member of the Chicago Sky
- Crystal Robinson (1999–2005)
- Mactabene "Makbule" Amachree (2001-2002) now playing in Turkey for the past 13 seasons(Tbf.org.tr)
- Katie Smith (2013), now head coach of the Liberty
- Erin Thorn (2003–2008)
- Teresa Weatherspoon (1997–2003), now a director of player development for the Liberty
- Tamika Whitmore (1999–2003)
- Sue Wicks (1997–2002)
- Sophia Witherspoon (1997–1999)
|New York Liberty honored numbers|
Ring of HonorEdit
Coaches and staffEdit
- Cablevision, owner of the New York Knicks (1997–2009)
- Madison Square Garden, Inc., owner of the New York Knicks (2010–2019)
- Joe Tsai (2019–Present)
|New York Liberty head coaches|
|W||L||Win %||G||W||L||Win %||G|
- Melissa McFerrin (1997–1998)
- Pat Coyle (1998–2004)
- Jeff House (1999–2004)
- Marianne Stanley (2004–2006)
- Nick DiPillo (2005–2008)
- Bruce Hamburger (2007–2008)
- Anne Donovan (2009)
- Laurie Byrd (2009–2010)
- Monique Ambers (2011–2012)
- Lady Grooms (2011–2012)
- Norm Ellenberger (2012)
- Barbara Farris (2013–2014)
- Taj McWilliams-Franklin (2013)
- Katie Smith (2014–2017)
- Herb Williams (2015–present)
- Barbara Farris (2018–2019)
- Charmin Smith (2019–present)
Regular season attendanceEdit
- A sellout for a basketball game at Madison Square Garden (1997–2010) is 19,563.
- A sellout for a basketball game at Prudential Center (2011–2013) is 18,711.
- A sellout for a basketball game at Madison Square Garden (2013–2017) is 19,812.
- A sellout for a basketball game at Westchester County Center (2018–) is 5,000.
|Regular season all-time attendance|
|Year||Average||High||Low||Sellouts||Total for year||WNBA game average|
- 1997 Elite: Kym Hampton (4), Vickie Johnson (12)
- 1997: Sue Wicks (6), Sophia Witherspoon (11), Trena Trice (22), Kisha Ford (27)
- 1998: Alicia Thompson (9), Nadine Domond (19), Albena Branzova (29), Vanessa Nygaard (39)
- 1999: Crystal Robinson (6), Michele Van Gorp (18), Tamika Whitmore (30), Carolyn Jones-Young (42)
- 2000: Olga Firsova (13), Desiree Francis (29), Jessica Bibby (45), Natalie Porter (61)
- 2001: Taru Tuukkanen (57), Tara Mitchem (60)
- 2002: Linda Frohlich (26), Tracy Gahan (46), Dee Dee Warley (62)
- 2003 Miami/Portland Dispersal Draft: Elena Baranova (11)
- 2003: Molly Creamer (10), Erin Thorn (17), Sonja Mallory (24), Kristen Brook Sharp (26), Nicole Kaczmarski (39)
- 2004 Cleveland Dispersal Draft: Ann Wauters (4)
- 2004: Shameka Christon (5), Amisha Carter (17), Cathy Joens (30)
- 2005: Loree Moore (10), Tabitha Pool (23), Rebecca Richman (36)
- 2006: Sherill Baker (12), Brooke Queenan (23), Christelle N'Garsanet (37)
- 2007 Charlotte Dispersal Draft: Janel McCarville (3)
- 2007: Tiffany Jackson (5), Shay Doron (16), Martina Weber (29)
- 2008: Essence Carson (7), Erlana Larkins (14), Wanisha Smith (27), Alberta Auguste (35)
- 2009 Houston Dispersal Draft: selection waived
- 2009: Kia Vaughn (8), Abby Waner (21)
- 2010 Sacramento Dispersal Draft: Nicole Powell (1)
- 2010: Kalana Greene (13), Ashley Houts (16), Cory Montgomery (25)
- 2011: Alex Montgomery (10), Angel Robinson (22), Mekia Valentine (34)
- 2012: Kelley Cain (7), Katelan Redmon (36)
- 2013: Kelsey Bone (5), Toni Young (7), Kamiko Williams (15), Shenneika Smith (25), Olcay Çakır (27)
- 2014: Alyssa Thomas (4), Tyaunna Marshall (14), Meighan Simmons (26)
- 2015: Brittany Boyd (9), Kiah Stokes (11), Amber Orrange (23), Laurin Mincy (27), Michala Johnson (28)
- 2016: Adut Bulgak (12), Ameryst Alston (24), Shacobia Barbee (36)
- 2017: Lindsay Allen (14), Kai James (34)
- December 15, 1999: The Liberty acquired Michele Van Gorp from the Portland Fire in exchange for Portland agreeing to select Sophia Witherspoon and Coquese Washington in the expansion draft.
- May 28, 2000: The Liberty traded Carolyn Jones-Young to the Portland Fire in exchange for Tari Phillips.
- February 24, 2006: The Liberty traded the 9th overall pick in the 2006 Draft to the Indiana Fever in exchange for Kelly Schumacher and the 12th overall pick in the 2006 Draft.
- April 4, 2007: The Liberty traded Becky Hammon and a second-round pick in the 2008 Draft to the San Antonio Silver Stars in exchange for draft rights to Jessica Davenport and a first-round pick in the 2008 Draft.
- June 20, 2007: The Liberty traded Sherill Baker to the Los Angeles Sparks in exchange for Lisa Willis.
- May 7, 2008: The Liberty traded a third-round pick in the 2009 Draft to the Phoenix Mercury in exchange for Leilani Mitchell.
- May 5, 2009: The Liberty traded a first-round pick in the 2010 Draft to the Los Angeles Sparks in exchange for Sidney Spencer.
- March 30, 2010: The Liberty traded Shameka Christon and Cathrine Kraayeveld to the Chicago Sky in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2010 Draft and Cappie Pondexter and Kelly Mazzante from the Phoenix Mercury. Phoenix received Candice Dupree from Chicago as part of this trade.
- April 11, 2011: The Liberty traded Angel Robinson to the Minnesota Lynx in exchange for Jessica Breland and a second-round pick in the 2012 Draft.
- April 11, 2011: The Liberty traded Kalana Greene to the Connecticut Sun in exchange for Sydney Colson.
- May 27, 2011: The Liberty acquired Quanitra Hollingsworth from the Minnesota Lynx in exchange for the right to swap third-round picks in the 2012 Draft.
- August 4, 2011: The Liberty traded Sidney Spencer to the Phoenix Mercury in exchange for Kara Braxton.
- February 27, 2013: The Liberty traded Kia Vaughn to the Washington Mystics in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2013 Draft.
- March 1, 2013: The Liberty traded Janel McCarville to the Minnesota Lynx and Nicole Powell plus a third-round pick in the 2013 Draft to the Tulsa Shock. In exchange, the Liberty received Deanna Nolan, a second-round pick in the 2013 Draft, and a third-round pick in the 2013 Draft.
- April 15, 2013: The Liberty traded Quanitra Hollingsworth to the Washington Mystics in exchange for the 25th overall pick in the 2013 Draft.
- April 14, 2014: The Liberty traded Kelsey Bone, Alyssa Thomas, and a first-round pick in the 2015 Draft to the Connecticut Sun in exchange for Tina Charles.
- July 9, 2014: The Liberty traded DeLisha Milton-Jones to the Atlanta Dream in exchange for Swin Cash.
- February 16, 2015: The Liberty traded Cappie Pondexter to the Chicago Sky in exchange for Epiphanny Prince.
- April 16, 2015: The Liberty traded Alex Montgomery to the San Antonio Stars in exchange for the 9th overall pick in the 2015 Draft. The Liberty also traded Anna Cruz and 16th and 35th overall pick to the Minnesota Lynx in exchange for the 11th, 23rd and 28th overall pick in the 2015 Draft.
- May 2, 2016: The Liberty traded a second-round pick in the 2017 Draft to the Atlanta Dream in exchange for Shoni Schimmel.
- May 11, 2016: The Liberty traded a first-round pick in the 2017 Draft to the Dallas Wings in exchange for Amanda Zahui B. and a second-round pick in the 2017 Draft.
- January 30, 2017: The Liberty traded Carolyn Swords, a first-round pick in the 2017 Draft to the Seattle Storm in exchange for Kia Vaughn and Bria Hartley.
- 1999: Kym Hampton, Vickie Johnson, Rebecca Lobo, Teresa Weatherspoon
- 2000: Tari Phillips, Teresa Weatherspoon, Sue Wicks
- 2001: Vickie Johnson, Tari Phillips, Teresa Weatherspoon
- 2002: Tari Phillips, Teresa Weatherspoon
- 2003: Becky Hammon, Tari Phillips, Teresa Weatherspoon
- 2004: Becky Hammon
- 2005: Becky Hammon, Ann Wauters
- 2006: None
- 2007: None
- 2008: No All-Star Game
- 2009: Shameka Christon
- 2010: Cappie Pondexter
- 2011: Essence Carson, Cappie Pondexter
- 2012: No All-Star Game
- 2013: Cappie Pondexter
- 2014: Tina Charles, Cappie Pondexter
- 2015: Tina Charles
- 2016: No All-Star Game
Honors and awardsEdit
- 1997 All-WNBA Second Team: Rebecca Lobo
- 1997 All-WNBA Second Team: Teresa Weatherspoon
- 1997 Defensive Player of the Year: Teresa Weatherspoon
- 1998 All-WNBA Second Team: Teresa Weatherspoon
- 1998 Defensive Player of the Year: Teresa Weatherspoon
- 1999 All-WNBA Second Team: Teresa Weatherspoon
- 2000 All-WNBA Second Team: Teresa Weatherspoon
- 2000 Most Improved Player: Tari Phillips
- 2001 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award: Sue Wicks
- 2002 All-WNBA Second Team: Tari Phillips
- 2005 All-WNBA Second Team: Becky Hammon
- 2007 Most Improved Player: Janel McCarville
- 2007 All-Defensive Second Team: Loree Moore
- 2010 All-WNBA First Team: Cappie Pondexter
- 2010 Most Improved Player: Leilani Mitchell
- 2010 All-Defensive First Team: Cappie Pondexter
- 2010 All-Rookie Team: Kalana Greene
- 2011 All-WNBA Second Team: Cappie Pondexter
- 2011 Most Improved Player: Kia Vaughn
- 2012 All-WNBA First Team: Cappie Pondexter
- 2013 All-Rookie Team: Kelsey Bone
- 2014 All-WNBA Second Team: Tina Charles
- 2015 Coach of the Year: Bill Laimbeer
- 2015 All-Rookie Team: Brittany Boyd
- 2015 All-Rookie Team: Kiah Stokes
- 2015 All-Defensive Second Team: Tina Charles
- 2015 All-Defensive Second Team: Kiah Stokes
- 2015 All-Defensive Second Team: Tanisha Wright
- 2015 All-WNBA First Team: Tina Charles
- 2015 All-WNBA Second Team: Epiphanny Prince
- 2016 Peak Performer (Points): Tina Charles
- 2016 Peak Performer (Rebounds): Tina Charles
- 2016 All-Defensive Second Team: Tanisha Wright
Currently, some Liberty games are broadcast on the MSG Network (MSG), which is a local television station for the area of New York City. More often than not, NBA TV will pick up the feed from the local broadcast, which is shown nationally. Broadcasters for the Liberty games are Mike Crispino, Rosalyn Gold-Onwude and Julianne Viani.
All games (excluding blackout games, which are available on ESPN3.com) are broadcast to the WNBA LiveAccess game feeds on the league website. Furthermore, some Liberty games are broadcast nationally on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC. The WNBA has reached an eight-year agreement with ESPN, which will pay right fees to the Liberty, as well as other teams in the league.
- "Liberty Unveils New Look For Historic 20th Season". Liberty.WNBA.com. NBA Media Ventures, LLC. March 28, 2016. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
- "New York Liberty Reproduction Guideline Sheet". WNBA Enterprises, LLC. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
- "Katie Smith Named New York Liberty Head Coach". Liberty.WNBA.com. NBA Media Ventures, LLC. Retrieved October 22, 2017.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. Retrieved 2014-01-29.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- Lena Williams (25 July 2004). "PRO BASKETBALL; Liberty Opens Big on Its Home, Er, Stage". New York Times. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
- "Liberty introduce Team President Isiah Thomas". New York Liberty.
- Berman, Marc. "Isiah Thomas – yes, that Isiah Thomas – is Liberty's Mr. Fix-t". New York Post.
- Bacharach, Erik. "Becky Hammon inducted into Liberty's Ring of Honor". Newsday.
- "New York Liberty get eliminated by Phoenix Mercury". 24 September 2016. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
- Voepel, Mechelle (November 15, 2017). "Jim Dolan parting ways with New York Liberty was only a matter of time". ESPN.com. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
- "MSG to Operate Liberty While Continuing to Pursue Sale, Westchester County Center to Serve as Team's Primary Home for 2018". New York Liberty. February 8, 2018.
- "Joe Tsai Makes Purchase of the Liberty Official". Retrieved January 23, 2019.
- "WNBA Announces Sale of New York Liberty to Joe Tsai". wnba.com. WNBA. January 23, 2019. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
- "WNBA Extends TV Rights Deal with ESPN and ABC". Sports Business. June 18, 2007. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
- New York Liberty official website
- Madison Square Garden
- MSG Network
- MSG Liberty
- New York City Sports Commission
- A Liberty Fan Blog
- Liberty signs partnership with Foxwoods Resort Casino
- New York Liberty Turns 15
| WNBA Eastern Conference co-champions
with Houston Comets
No title awarded
No title awarded
| WNBA Eastern Conference champions
| WNBA Eastern Conference champions