New York Liberty

New York Liberty
Conference Eastern
Founded 1997
History New York Liberty
Arena Madison Square Garden
1997–2010, 2014–present
Prudential Center
City New York, New York
Sponsor DraftKings
Team colors Green, black, orange, blue, white[1]
Owner(s) The Madison Square Garden Company
General manager Kristin Bernert
Head coach Bill Laimbeer
Assistant coaches Katie Smith
Herb Williams
Championships 0
Conference titles 4 (1997, 1999, 2000, 2002)
Mascot Maddie
Official website

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.

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 added Crystal Robinson with the 6th overall pick[2] 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 makinge 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.

1998, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2013, and recently 2014 were the only years the Liberty failed to make the playoffs.

Post-Weatherspoon (2003–2005)

Madison Square 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.[3] 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 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.

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.

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 (2010–2014)

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.


After qualifying for the 2016 WNBA Playoffs, they lost to the Phoenix Mercury, getting eliminated for the tournament.[4]


Season-by-season records


New York Liberty statistics

Current roster

New York Liberty roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Nat. Name Height Weight DOB From Yrs
G/F 9 Australia Allen, Rebecca 6' 2" (1.88m) 164 lb (74kg) 11-06-1992 Australia 1
G 15 United States Boyd, Brittany 5' 9" (1.75m) 156 lb (71kg) 06-11-1993 UC Berkeley 1
F 32 United States Cash, Swin 6' 1" (1.85m) 171 lb (78kg) 09-22-1979 Connecticut 14
F/C 31 United States Charles, Tina 6' 4" (1.93m) 186 lb (84kg) 12-05-1988 Connecticut 6
G 10 United States Prince, Epiphanny  5' 9" (1.75m) 179 lb (81kg) 01-11-1988 Rutgers 6
G 14 United States Rodgers, Sugar 5' 9" (1.75m) 166 lb (75kg) 12-08-1989 Georgetown 3
G 5 United States Schimmel, Shoni 5' 9" (1.75m) 161 lb (73kg) 05-04-1992 Louisville 2
C 41 United States Stokes, Kiah 6' 3" (1.91m) 191 lb (87kg) 03-30-1993 Connecticut 1
C 8 United States Swords, Carolyn 6' 6" (1.98m) 209 lb (95kg) 07-19-1989 Boston C 4
G 30 United States Wright, Tanisha 5' 11" (1.8m) 165 lb (75kg) 11-29-1983 Penn State 11
C 17 Sweden Zahui B., Amanda 6' 5" (1.96m) 250 lb (113kg) 09-08-1993 Minnesota 1
G 1 United States Zellous, Shavonte 5' 10" (1.78m) 188 lb (85kg) 08-28-1986 Pittsburgh 7

Head coach
United States Bill Laimbeer (Notre Dame)
Assistant coaches
United States Katie Smith (Ohio State)
United States Herb Williams (Ohio State)
Athletic trainer
United States Rosemary Ragle (Troy)
Strength and conditioning coach
United States Kevin Duffy (Ohio)

  • (C) Team captain
  • (DP) Unsigned draft pick
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (S) Suspended
  • Injured

WNBA roster page

Other rights owned

Nationality Name Years pro Last played Drafted
United States Deanna Nolan 9 2009 2001
Turkey Olcay Çakır 2013

Former players

Honored numbers

Coaches and staff


General Managers

Head coaches

New York Liberty head coaches
Name Start End Seasons Regular season Playoffs
Nancy Darsch 1997 1998 2 35 23 .603 58 1 1 .500 2
Richie Adubato 1998 2004 5 100 78 .562 178 14 13 .519 27
Pat Coyle 2004 2009 5 81 90 .474 171 6 10 .375 16
Anne Donovan 2009 2010 2 29 22 .567 51 2 3 .400 5
John Whisenant 2010 2012 2 34 34 .500 68 1 4 .250 5
Bill Laimbeer 2012 Current 4 70 66 .515 136 3 4 .429 7

Assistant coaches

All-time notes

Regular season attendance

Regular season all-time attendance
Year Average High Low Sellouts Total for year WNBA game average
1997 13,270 (2nd) 18,051 8,554 0 185,786 9,669
1998 14,935 (2nd) 19,563 11,276 1 224,024 10,869
1999 13,797 (2nd) 16,782 10,940 0 220,748 10,207
2000 14,498 (2nd) 19,563 11,257 1 231,962 9,074
2001 15,671 (1st) 18,213 12,262 0 250,735 9,075
2002 14,670 (2nd) 19,563 12,037 1 234,717 9,228
2003 12,491 (2nd) 15,424 10,711 0 212,346 8,800
2004 9,629 (3rd) 15,698 5,945 0 163,686 8,613
2005 10,145 (1st) 12,543 7,897 0 172,471 8,172
2006 9,120 (2nd) 14,070 7,751 0 155,048 7,476
2007 8,677 (2nd) 11,341 6,267 0 147,506 7,742
2008 9,045 (4th) 19,393 6,928 0 153,772 7,948
2009 9,800 (3rd) 15,667 8,018 0 166,604 8,039
2010 11,069 (1st) 18,162 7,537 0 188,173 7,834
2011 7,702 (8th) 14,314 5,725 0 130,936 7,954
2012 6,779 (9th) 14,715 4,723 0 115,241 7,452
2013 7,189 (7th) 12,858 5,766 0 122,217 7,531
2014 8,949 (3rd) 17,252 7,023 0 152,128 7,578
2015 9,159 (3rd) 18,617 5,663 0 155,695 7,184

Draft picks



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
  • 2012 All-WNBA First Team: Cappie Pondexter
  • 2013 All-Rookie Team: Kelsey Bone
  • 2014 All-WNBA Second Team: Tina Charles
  • 2015 Coach of the Year: Bill Laimbeer
  • 2015 All-Rookie Team: Brittany Boyd
  • 2015 All-Rookie Team: Kiah Stokes
  • 2015 All-Defensive Second Team: Tina Charles
  • 2015 All-Defensive Second Team: Kiah Stokes
  • 2015 All-Defensive Second Team: Tanisha Wright
  • 2015 All-WNBA First Team: Tina Charles
  • 2015 All-WNBA Second Team: Epiphanny Prince
  • 2016 Peak Performer (Points): Tina Charles
  • 2016 Peak Performer (Rebounds): Tina Charles
  • 2016 All-Defensive Second Team: Tanisha Wright

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, Rosalyn Gold-Onwude and Kym Hampton.

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.[5]


  1. "New York Liberty Reproduction Guideline Sheet". NBA Media Central. Retrieved July 3, 2016.
  3. Lena Williams (25 July 2004). "PRO BASKETBALL; Liberty Opens Big on Its Home, Er, Stage". New York Times. Retrieved 10 November 2011.
  4. "New York Liberty get eliminated by Phoenix Mercury". 24 September 2016. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  5. "WNBA Extends TV Rights Deal with ESPN and ABC". Sports Business. June 18, 2007. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
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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