New York Liberty

New York Liberty
New York Liberty
2011 New York Liberty season
New York Liberty logo
Conference Eastern
Founded 1997
History New York Liberty
Arena Prudential Center
City New York City, New York
Sponsor Foxwoods Resort Casino
Team colors Blue, Orange, White, Seafoam Green
Owner(s) Madison Square Garden, Inc.
General manager John Whisenant
Head coach John Whisenant
Assistant coaches Monique Ambers
Lady Grooms
Championships None
Conference titles 4 (1997, 1999, 2000, 2002)
Mascot Maddie
Official website

The New York Liberty is 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 one of the eight original franchises of the league. The team is owned by Madison Square Garden, who also owns the Liberty's NBA counterpart, the New York Knicks.

The Liberty has qualified for the WNBA Playoffs in ten of its fourteen years in New York. The franchise has been home to many well-known players such as guard Teresa Weatherspoon, Becky Hammon, University of Utah player Leilani Mitchell, and Rutgers player Cappie Pondexter. In 1997, 1999, 2000, and 2002, the Liberty went to the WNBA Finals but fell short the first three attempts to Houston and in 2002 to Los Angeles. They have the most appearances in the WNBA Finals without a championship.

Due to renovations at Madison Square Garden, the Liberty will play at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey from 2011 through 2013.


Franchise history

Early success (1997–2002)

Prior to the team's first season, to avoid potential trademark infringement, the team purchased the trademarks of the defunct Liberty Basketball Association.

The adage "always the bridesmaid, never the bride," could be used to describe the Liberty. 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 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.

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. In 2001, Weatherspoon became the WNBA's all-time assist leader, and Sue Wicks, once a back-up to Lobo at forward, also proved to be a valuable player, making the All-Star game. 1998, 2003, 2006, and recently 2009 were the only years the Liberty failed to make the playoffs.

Post-Weatherspoon (2003–2005)

The Garden during a Liberty game.

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.[1] 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.

Transition seasons (2006–2007)

The Liberty saw a poor 2006 season, winning only 11 games, the worst 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.

Decline (2008–2009)

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.

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. The renovation has been rescheduled, so the Liberty will play in the Prudential Center in Newark in 2011, 2012, and 2013.

In the 2009 WNBA Draft, the Liberty selected local favorite Kia Vaughn from Rutgers. With a solid core group, the Liberty looked to be a contender in the East yet again.

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 Cappie Pondexter era (2010–present)

They fared far 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. Pondexter and Plenette Pierson, along with improved play from Kia Vaughn, allowed New York to be competitive early in the season. The team had difficulty getting used to the Prudential Center (Newark, New Jersey) which would be their home floor until 2013 while renovations at Madison Square Garden were completed. The team went into the All-Star break in third place in the Eastern Conference.


  • 1997–2002: white with a black line above the shoulders at home, black with a green line on the road.
  • 2003–2010: white with teal, blue and orange trim and "Liberty" on the chest in light blue letters at home. Primary color is blue on the road with "New York" on the chest in white letters. The Liberty logo is on the left leg of the shorts.
  • 2010: On June 2, 2010, the New York Liberty and Foxwoods Resort Casino announced a premier partnership that includes a branded jersey sponsorship. As part of the partnership, the Foxwoods name will appear in front of the Liberty jerseys.
  • 2011–present: As part of the transition to Adidas' Revolution 30 technology, the Liberty unveiled new jerseys. Home jerseys are white with seafoam green numbers and blue trim. Road uniforms are blue with seafoam green numbers and white trim. The Foxwoods logo and name will remain on the jerseys.

Season-by-season records


Current roster

New York Liberty rosterv · d · e
Players Coaches
Pos. # Nat. Name Height Weight DOB From Yrs
F/C 45 United States Braxton, Kara 6' 6" (1.98m) 225 lb (102kg) 02-18-1983 Georgia 6
G/F 17 United States Carson, Essence 6' 0" (1.83m) 165 lb (75kg) 07-28-1986 Rutgers 3
G 50 United States Colson, Sydney 5' 8" (1.73m) 140 lb (64kg) 08-06-1989 Texas A&M R
C 9 United States Hollingsworth, Quanitra 6' 5" (1.96m) 200 lb (91kg) 11-15-1988 Virginia Commonwealth 2
PG 5 United States Mitchell, Leilani 5' 5" (1.65m) 128 lb (58kg) 06-15-1985 Utah 3
G/F 22 United States Montgomery, Alex 6' 1" (1.85m) 185 lb (84kg) 11-12-1988 Georgia Tech R
C 53 United States Phillips, Ta'Shia 6' 6" (1.98m) 198 lb (90kg) 01-24-1989 Xavier R
F/C 33 United States Pierson, Plenette 6' 2" (1.88m) 180 lb (82kg) 08-31-1981 Texas Tech 8
G 23 United States Pondexter, Cappie 5' 9" (1.75m) 160 lb (73kg) 01-07-1983 Rutgers 5
F 14 United States Powell, Nicole 6' 2" (1.88m) 170 lb (77kg) 06-22-1982 Stanford 7
C 15 United States Vaughn, Kia 6' 4" (1.93m) 198 lb (90kg) 01-24-1987 Rutgers 2

East: ATL • CHI • CON • IND • NY • WAS | West: LA • MIN • PHO • SA • SEA • TUL
Head coach
United States John Whisenant (New Mexico State)
Assistant coaches
United States Monique Ambers (Arizona State)
United States Lady Grooms (Georgia)
Athletic trainer
United States Lisa White (Stony Brook)
Strength and conditioning coach
United States Kevin Duffy (Ohio)

  • (C) Team captain
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (IN) Inactive
  • (S) Suspended
  • Injured Injured

WNBA roster page

Former players

Honored numbers

Coaches and staff


Head coaches

New York Liberty head coaches

General Managers

Assistant coaches

  • 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–present)
  • Lady Grooms (2011–present)


New York Liberty statistics

Media coverage

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 and Mary Murphy.

All games (excluding blackout games, which are available on 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.[2]

All-time notes

Regular season attendance

Regular season all-time attendance

Draft picks

  • 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)


  • 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 Leiliani 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.


  • 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

Honors and awards

  • 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


  1. ^ Lena Williams (25 July 2004). "PRO BASKETBALL; Liberty Opens Big on Its Home, Er, Stage". New York Times. Retrieved 10 November 2011. 
  2. ^ "WNBA Extends TV Rights Deal with ESPN and ABC". Sports Business. June 18, 2007. Retrieved 2009-08-04. 

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Inaugural Co-Champions
WNBA Eastern Conference Co-Champions
With Houston Comets

1997 (First title)
Succeeded by
No Title Awarded
Preceded by
No Title Awarded
WNBA Eastern Conference Champions
1999 (Second title)
2000 (Third title)
Succeeded by
Charlotte Sting
Preceded by
Charlotte Sting
WNBA Eastern Conference Champions
2002 (Fourth title)
Succeeded by
Detroit Shock

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