The only element missing from a week of celebration was a NY Liberty win in their Home Opener at the Westchester County Center. The Ladies of Liberty lost to the reigning WNBA Champions Minnesota Lynx, 78-72, in their inaugural game at the Westchester County Center on Friday.
On Wednesday, May 23, City of White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach and the Office of the Westchester County Executive welcomed the Liberty to White Plains at the White Plains Outdoor Farmers Market, on Court Street.
NY Liberty Chief Operating Officer Daakeia Clarke, Swin Cash, the Director of Franchise Development, Team Ambassador and Liberty legend Kym Hampton and Liberty mascot Maddie greeted fans with free tickets, photo opps and prizes, as they shopped at the Farmers Market.
On Friday, as anticipation swelled for the NY Liberty Home Opener, the Ladies of Liberty hosted a pregame FanFest presented by Chase. As a DJ spun tunes in front of the County Center, fans lined-up at the photo booth, Pop-A-Shot, face painting and airbrush tattooing tent and The Liberty Wheel to spin for mementoes.
Liberty legend and White Plains resident Teresa Weatherspoon addressed the sold-out crowd of 2315 before the start of the Liberty Home Opener. Then another Liberty legend, Kym Hampton sang the National Anthem. It was significant that these two Liberty alumnae ushered in a new era of Liberty basketball, as they were both original members of the NY Liberty when the WNBA was formed in 1996.
Madison Square Garden Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer James Dolan and NY Liberty President Isiah Thomas sat courtside to watch Lynx Maya Moore score the first WNBA point in the County Center on a free throw at 8:59 of the first quarter.
The Liberty’s first points scored on their new primary home-court were by Marissa Coleman on a jumper exactly one minute later. Liberty center Tina Charles recorded the first WNBA three-pointer at the County Center at 7:27 of the first quarter.
It was announced in November 2017, that Dolan intended to sell the Liberty. However, in February 2018 the MSG Company announced that it would still operate the team while downsizing their primary home-court from Madison Square Garden to the Westchester County Center. The Liberty will play 15 home games at the County Center and two at MSG this season, as the MSG Company still pursues a buyer for the team.
“I look at it like everything thing must change,” commented Hampton, at the Farmers Market. “Hats off to Mr. Dolan for being the only remaining original WNBA franchise owner; he has put 22 years into it and he still, with the move, is supporting this team,” acknowledged Hampton.
Nonetheless, basketball is basketball whether it is played in the “The World’s Most Famous Arena” or “Westchester’s Greatest Arena” or Gardella Park on Ferris Avenue in White Plains. What is more, the motivation remains the same, which is to win!
The Liberty did all they could to win their Home Opener at the County Center but could not overcome Lynx’s Seimone Augustus’s game-high 21 points, Sylvia Fowles, double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds and Maya Moore’s 20 points, including her three-point dagger with 23.5 seconds left in the game.
Charles also notched a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds and rookie Kia Nurse scored 14 points, while going 3-for-6 from behind the arc and 3-for-3 from the free throw line in the loss for the Liberty.