The New York Liberty opening their 23rd season in the WNBA and second season at the Westchester County Center was bittersweet, on Friday. It was not just because the Ladies of Liberty lost their 2019 Home Opener to the Indiana Fever on a buzzer beating lay-up, 80-81.
It was foremost because this is the last season the Liberty will play at the County Center and their inaugural season playing for an entity other than the Madison Square Garden Company.
The NY Liberty was sold to an entity owned by Joe Tsai and his family on Jan. 23 this year. Tsai is a 49% minority owner of the Brooklyn Nets.
The Liberty will play their full slate of 17 home games at the Westchester County Center this season with one home game against the Seattle Storm played at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, on Sunday, Aug. 11.
Nonetheless, the Liberty led by center Tina Charles with 32 points, 12 rebounds while shooting 10-for-10 from the foul line, certainly gave the 1,965 fans many thrilling moments during their Home Opener at the County Center. The only missing element was the win, which was snatched away at the final buzzer.
The game against the Fever had seven lead changes and ties in the fourth quarter, Charles playing like a women possessed had 22 points and 10 rebounds in the initial three quarters and scored 10 of the Liberty’s final 13 points of the game.
Charles put the Liberty in the lead, 80-79, with two free throws with seven seconds left in the game. But the Fever got the ball to their six-time WNBA All-Star Candice Dupree, who looped it to 6’ 7” rookie center Teaira McCowan, who flipped it up and in the basket for the win, 81-80.
Charles and the Liberty fought hard in the game. It did not seem to matter to them who they are affiliated with or where they will play next season. They just want to win. “We came out and played hard. We jumped on them but then we died down a bit, the turnovers hurt us, I think they had 16 points off turnovers,” commented Charles.
Teresa Weatherspoon is a Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer
If anyone knows anything about playing in tough games, it is NY Liberty legend Teresa Weatherspoon, who is presently the Director of Player and Franchise Development for the Liberty. “Spoon” as she is affectionately nicknamed, is one of the original members of the NY Liberty having joined the team during their inaugural season in 1997. The Liberty is one of the original teams of the WNBA.
Weatherspoon, who presently resides in White Plains, played 16 seasons with the Liberty (1997-2003) and led them to four WNBA Finals appearances (1997, 1999, 2000, 2002). She is a five-time All-Star and two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, who was named one of the top-20 best and most influential players in the WNBA in 2016. She is also a member of the Liberty Ring of Honor and the first player in the history of the WNBA to post 1000 points and 1000 assists in her career.
During Enshrinement Weekend at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame from September 5-7, in Springfield, Massachusetts, Weatherspoon will covet the ultimate prize when she is inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “My family; we are extremely excited because it is not just for me it is definitely for my family,” emotionally stated Weatherspoon, who will join Liberty Head Coach Katie Smith, in the Hall of Fame, who was inducted last year.
I covered “Spoon” during her entire playing career with the Liberty, she remminenced with me regarding jumping on the scorer’s table with the Eastern Conference Championship poster after the Liberty won the WNBA Eastern Finals in 2000, some 19 years ago. “I remember that like it happened two seconds ago. This game brings so much excitement and joy to me that I wanted everyone to feel what I felt,” remembered Weatherspoon.
Weatherspoon shares credit with many people for her success including her family and all they sacrificed for her to achieve her goals, her teammates who she calls” her sisters for life.” Also, the fans, the front office, the media and even the behind the scenes help including the garage attendants and security guards.
However, she dedicates this ultimate basketball honor to her late parents Charles and Rowena Weatherspoon. Congratulations Teresa Weatherspoon much deserved!