Back in Black
By Chelsea Blake
April 17, 2014
With the beginning of the 2014 WNBA season right around the corner, the New York Liberty have a lot to look forward to: a return to Madison Square Garden, the recent acquisition of 2012 WNBA Most Valuable Player Tina Charles, and a new away uniform, one to generate nostalgia among those who have been fans since the team’s inception.
The Liberty first donned the black jersey during its inaugural season in 1997 continuing to do so until 2003, when it was replaced with a blue version.
“I love the black uniform,” said Liberty Legend Sue Wicks, a member of the inaugural team. “It's so New York: no-frills, no lace, just the black uniform. I loved when Mike Tyson was the champ and would come to the ring with just his black trunks and a menacing glare. It was such a statement.”
Wicks’ former teammate Kym Hampton believes returning to the familiar color palette celebrates the historical significance and relevance of the franchise. “Black is such a strong, mystical color,” said Hampton, now the team’s Community Relations and Field Marketing Specialist. “For us it meant taking care of business! And with Bill as the new coach, the combo [of that] could be just what we need to get over the hump.”
Current players also recognize the significance and power of returning to the black uniform. Star guard Essence Carson appreciates the symbolism of the jersey change and is ready to build upon the team’s historical success.
“At the inception of the WNBA, we were notably known as a powerhouse throughout the league. The black symbolized the grit and hard work of the city itself and the team embodied that persona. It's time to return to that attitude. There's no better time to do that other than our return to the Mecca of basketball, New York City.”
While playing in the black uniform evokes a very unique and special feeling, there are also strategic reasons for the change. Liberty Vice President of Strategy and Planning Kristin Bernert offered a business perspective.
“With our return to the Garden, we are going back to our roots in many ways, with a renewed sense of enthusiasm. This is an incredible opportunity to reconnect with our city, our long time fans, and our Legends who built the foundation of this team.”
The Liberty will debut the black jerseys on Sunday, May 4th when they travel to Uncasville, Connecticut for their first preseason game.
“Like the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty’s unique, identifying color has always been seafoam green,” Bernert said. “And our finest memories were created and our best teams played in black (road) and white (home) uniforms with seafoam accents. So, with our return to the Mecca of basketball, it is only appropriate that we’ll also return to these color combinations.”
The Liberty’s new jersey, including authentic and replica versions, can be pre-ordered online at www.NYLiberty.com and will be available at Madison Square Garden starting May 8, when the Liberty take on the Connecticut Sun.