The New York Liberty is considered to be one of the most successful teams in WNBA history.
The Liberty has continued to play every game like it’s the last and this has gotten them far season after season. Every team begins their journey somewhere and this is the New York Liberty’s story.
The Liberty Start
The Liberty is one of eight teams that were originally picked to start the WNBA. October 30, 1996 was the day New York was chosen to become one of the locations this league would get their start. Among the first players to be chosen to compete on this team were Rebecca Lobo and Teresa Weatherspoon.
The following year saw Carol Blazejowski, member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, named the vice president and general manager for the Liberty. Head Coach Nancy Darsch led her team into the inaugural season before a crowd of 14,284 against the Los Angeles Sparks, where the Liberty defeated them 67-57 at the Forum.
The Liberty saw much success in the inaugural season and set the bar for future seasons of play. They faced the Sparks in their first game and won. The Liberty brought this momentum into the following game where they played Phoenix and defeated them 65-57.
This was the first home game at Madison Square Garden where they played in front of a crowd of 17,780 fans and supporters. New York couldn’t be contained as they went on to win seven straight games. The Liberty finished in second place in the conference and made it to the first ever Championship game against the Houston Comets.
The season ended in a loss against the Comets, but the team would bring their desire for a Championship into the next season. During the 14 home games at Madison Square Garden, the Liberty played in front of an average crowd of 13, 270 people.
Season after Season
The following season had a rough start, but the Liberty was able to go on a run late in the second half of the season to finish winning its last 10 of 11 games. One of these games happened to be against defending Champions the Houston Comets. This game took place in front of 19,563 people at Madison Square Garden and was televised on NBC.
The 1999 season saw a change of leadership as NBA coach Richie Adubato took over the team. Because the fans at Madison Square Garden were consistent and loyal, the Garden was picked to be the site of the first-ever WNBA All-Star Game. The game was sold out and four Liberty players were picked to participate.
This season also saw the most famous shot in WNBA history: a half court buzzer-beater that won Game Two against the Houston Comets. In 2008, the Liberty made their fifth appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Season after season, the team has been close to getting a championship, but has always been thwarted by opposing teams. The 2011 season will hopefully be the year that the Championship goes to New York.