Catching Up With Bethany Donaphin

When skimming through the pages of the Libertyís playoff history, there are just two game changing shots that stand out. One belongs to legend Teresa Weatherspoon, and the other to Bethany Donaphin.

The Liberty faithful remember Donaphin as the quiet killer who propelled New York into its fourth Eastern Conference Finals appearance in 2004. It was on September 28th at Madison Square Garden, in a decisive first round Game Three versus the Detroit Shock with the game tied that the 6-2 center was dished the ball as the seconds ticked away and sunk a 10-foot jumper to seal the victory.

Originally added to the Libertyís roster in the final 10 games of the 2003 season, the native New Yorker would make just one appearance that summer. Returning to the Big Apple for the 2004 campaign, Donaphin helped the Liberty make a late season push into the post-season when New Yorkís front court of Tari Phillips and Ann Wauters were sidelined by injuries. She saw action in 26 games with 16 starts, averaging 18.4 minutes, 5.0 points and 2.7 rebounds per outing in what would be her final season in the WNBA.

An unlikely hero who answered the call when needed can be found today doing something fairly similar. Back in the city shuffle, Donaphin is currently spending her days with the NBA/WNBA family in a fan communications role at the leagueís 5th Avenue office. The former Lib took a few minutes to catch up with to discuss her new endeavors, future goals and of course, ďthat shot.Ē

What is your role right now?
Iím working in fan communications, managing the relationship between the NBA and its fans. I handle anything from people wanting to know about our products in the NBA Store, how to buy tickets or even information about players. I give them the information or refer them to the right place. There is a good deal of variation, and a lot of people want to know about what the NBA is doing throughout its various programs.

Does anyone know who you are when theyíre talking to you?
No (laughs), I don't know that it would matter. It's funny to see business from this side. Iím used to being an athlete, but now I get to see the operation that goes behind it all. Itís intriguing, but, no I don't think they would know who I am since itís the NBA that is in season now. When the WNBA season starts, that might change. I can talk to the fans, get a feel about the league and the direction it is headed.

Had you ever worked in an office setting before?
I have. I actually worked at ESPN The Magazine as a writer and I also worked at the Walt Disney Company in finance.

What do you think of the routine? What are you hoping for in the long run?
I really am interested in being around sports. I am doing really cool things here. My long term goals are to go to business school and eventually work in brand management.

So whatís better, going to the gym or into the office every day?
(Laughs) It was definitely an adjustment to be in a corporate environment, but there's no question it's a lot more comfortable to wear basketball shorts and sneakers than skirts and heels. Doing this engages me into a different area of who I am. But, nothing compares to being an athlete.

Do you have a favorite Liberty memory, on and off the court?
I have both. I loved my team-mates, we had such good times on road trips in the airports and at the hotels. There were a lot of great people on that team, and Crystal Robinson was probably the funniest team-mate Iíve ever had.

And on the court, it was probably that shot I hit. That was probably my most memorable moment. It was just one moment, but I really cherish the whole experience, being a part of a rich history and being in my hometown. I got to see my mom in the stands every night. That night was cool, but I think I value the whole experience.

When was the last time you played organized basketball?
Once I left the Liberty, I went to Italy and was there for four years. We won three Italian League championships, as well as a FIBA European Cup. It really was a great experience. Itís just still memorable to have lived in a foreign country and to have made it home; learning the language, making friends and finding success and improving as a basketball player.

Weíve had a few players come through the office to get a feel for what itís like on the business side. Do you think experiencing the business aspect would have been something you enjoyed doing while you were playing?
Itís smart for any player to do this and it can pave a way for your life after basketball. I would have been interested when I was playing, just because you can learn so much and get a sense for what you can do. A lot of people don't think about it when you're an athlete, because itís easy to put stuff on the back burner. Iíve been fortunate to work at some great companies.

The Liberty's 14th campaign tips off at The Garden on Sunday, May 16 versus WNBA All-Star Sylvia Fowles and the Chicago Sky. Season tickets, beginning with just three games, are on sale now by calling 212-465-6766.