|New York Liberty|
|History||New York Liberty
|Arena||Madison Square Garden
|Location||New York City|
|Team colors||Green, black, orange, blue, white
|Head coach||Katie Smith|
|Ownership||The Madison Square Garden Company|
|Conference titles||4 (1997, 1999, 2000, 2002)|
The New York Liberty are a professional basketball team based in New York City, 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 The Madison Square Garden Company, who also owns the Liberty's National Basketball Association (NBA) counterpart, the New York Knicks. Home games are played at Madison Square Garden in the borough of Manhattan.
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.
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 was 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 Comets. In Game 2, Teresa Weatherspoon's halfcourt shot at the buzzer gave the Liberty a one-point road win that tied the series. 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 making 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, once a back-up to Lobo at forward who 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 and advanced to the WNBA Eastern Conference Finals in 2001.
2003 marked a transition for the Liberty, 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 at the team's starting point guard spot.
Six games during the 2004 season were moved to 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 to the Houston Comets, Ann Wauters emerged as a force at the team's starting center position in 2005. However, she was 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 saw 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. Although they had 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. During 2009, the team fired head coach Pat Coyle, which led to the hiring of then-Liberty assistant coach Anne Donovan to take the interim tag. Even with her coaching New York, the franchise continued to struggle, finishing 13-21, their second worst record in franchise history.
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. As such, she 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 beginning in 2009. The renovation plans were delayed, and the Liberty played at the Garden in 2009 and 2010. While the renovation had been rescheduled, the Liberty ended up playing in the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey for their 2011, 2012, and 2013 seasons.
Pondexter and Plenette Pierson, along with improved play from Vaughn, allowed New York to be competitive early in the 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.
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 a NBA assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs.
|Season||Team||Conference||Regular season||Playoff Results||Head coach|
|New York Liberty|
|1997||1997||East||2nd||17||11||.607||Won WNBA Semifinals (Phoenix, 1-0)
Lost WNBA Finals (Houston, 0-1)
|1998||1998||East||3rd||18||12||.600||Did not qualify||Nancy Darsch|
|1999||1999||East||1st||18||14||.563||Received a bye for the Conference Semifinals
Won Conference Finals (Charlotte, 2-1)
Lost WNBA Finals (Houston, 1-2)
|2000||2000||East||1st||20||12||.625||Won Conference Semifinals (Washington, 2-0)
Won Conference Finals (Cleveland, 2-1)
Lost WNBA Finals (Houston, 0-2)
|2001||2001||East||2nd||21||11||.656||Won Conference Semifinals (Miami, 2-1)
Lost Conference Finals (Charlotte, 1-2)
|2002||2002||East||1st||18||14||.563||Won Conference Semifinals (Indiana, 2-1)
Won Conference Finals (Washington, 2-1)
Lost WNBA Finals (Los Angeles, 0-2)
|2003||2003||East||6th||16||18||.471||Did not qualify||Richie Adubato|
|2004||2004||East||2nd||18||16||.529||Won Conference Semifinals (Detroit, 2-1)
Lost Conference Finals (Connecticut, 0-2)
|R. Adubato (7-9)
P. Coyle (11-7)
|2005||2005||East||3rd||18||16||.529||Lost Conference Semifinals (Indiana, 0-2)||Pat Coyle|
|2006||2006||East||5th||11||23||.324||Did not qualify||Pat Coyle|
|2007||2007||East||4th||16||18||.471||Lost Conference Semifinals (Detroit, 1-2)||Pat Coyle|
|2008||2008||East||3rd||19||15||.559||Won Conference Semifinals (Connecticut, 2-1)
Lost Conference Finals (Detroit, 1-2)
|2009||2009||East||7th||13||21||.382||Did not qualify||P. Coyle (6-11)
A. Donovan (7-10)
|2010||2010||East||2nd||22||12||.647||Won Conference Semifinals (Indiana, 2-1)
Lost Conference Finals (Atlanta, 0-2)
|2011||2011||East||4th||19||15||.559||Lost Conference Semifinals (Indiana, 1-2)||John Whisenant|
|2012||2012||East||4th||15||19||.441||Lost Conference Semifinals (Connecticut, 0-2)||John Whisenant|
|2013||2013||East||5th||11||23||.324||Did not qualify||Bill Laimbeer|
|2014||2014||East||5th||15||19||.441||Did not qualify||Bill Laimbeer|
|2015||2015||East||1st||23||11||.676||Won Conference Semifinals (Washington, 2-1)
Lost Conference Finals (Indiana 1-2)
|2016||2016||East||1st||21||13||.618||Received a bye for the First Round
Lost Second Round (Phoenix 0-1)
|2017||2017||East||1st||22||12||.647||Received a bye for the First Round
Lost Second Round (Washington 0-1)
|Regular season||371||325||.533||4 Conference Championships|
|Playoffs||27||36||.429||0 WNBA Championships|
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.
|WNBA Eastern Conference Co-Champions
With Houston Comets
1997 (First title)
No Title Awarded
No Title Awarded
|WNBA Eastern Conference Champions
1999 (Second title)
2000 (Third title)
|WNBA Eastern Conference Champions
2002 (Fourth title)