The New York Liberty Story

1996

  • On October 30, New York was selected as one of eight charter members of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA).
  • Rebecca Lobo and Teresa Weatherspoon joined as the team's first players and the franchise name and logo were introduced.

1997

  • Carol Blazejowski, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, is named vice president and general manager for the Liberty.
  • The Liberty's and WNBA's first game was played on June 21 in Los Angeles. Led by head coach Nancy Darsch, the Liberty defeated the Los Angeles Sparks, 67-57, before a crowd of 14,284 at The Forum.
  • On June 29, in front of a Madison Square Garden (MSG) crowd of 17,780, the Liberty scored its first win in its first game at home, defeating Phoenix, 65-57.
  • New York notched seven straight victories to start the inaugural season, finished in second place in the conference and advanced to the first ever Championship game versus the Houston Comets.
  • An average of 13,270 fans attended each of the Liberty's 14 home games.

1998

  • Despite a rough start to the season, New York rallied late in the second half, including a stretch when it won 10 out of 11 games.
  • One of those wins was a 70-54 victory over the champion Houston Comets. This rematch took place in front of the Liberty's first ever-MSG capacity crowd of 19,563 in a nationally televised contest on NBC.

1999

  • Veteran NBA coach Richie Adubato took over the team reins on June 10 and guided the Liberty to an 87-60 victory over the defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Rockers.
  • With the Liberty posting impressive attendance figures for the third straight season, MSG played host to the first-ever WNBA All-Star Game, which saw a sellout (18,649) crowd on July 14. Four Liberty players participated: Rebecca Lobo, Teresa Weatherspoon, Kym Hampton, and Vickie Johnson.
  • The Liberty posted an overall mark of 18-14 and won its first Eastern Conference title.
  • Despite falling short of the WNBA title, the series against the Comets was pushed to a third game when Weatherspoon made the most famous shot in WNBA history – a half court buzzer-beating shot that won Game Two before a stunned Houston squad and Compaq Center crowd.

2000

  • Newly acquired center Tari Phillips thrived in the New York spotlight, leading the team in points and rebounds and earned the WNBA’s Most Improved Player Award.
    Weatherspoon was voted to the WNBA All-Star squad as well as the WNBA All-Second Team.
  • With a club best 20-12 record, the team finished atop the Eastern Conference and earned a third trip to the WNBA Championship. New York fell went 2-0 against Houston, but had a strong Game Two showing with four players scoring in double figures.

2001

  • In its fifth anniversary season, the team advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals versus Charlotte, however fell in the series 2-1.
  • The franchise led the league in attendance, averaging 15,660 fans per game. The team set a new franchise record for victories, finishing the season 21-11.The team tied a record win streak with seven in a row from June 21 - July 5.
  • Both Tari Phillips and Teresa Weatherspoon reached the 1,000 career point mark.
  • The All-Star Game featured the Liberty coaching staff leading the East squad, which included Liberty starters Phillips, Weatherspoon and Johnson.
  • Sue Wicks capped off the season by winning the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award.

2002

  • Coach Adubato and company led New York to 18 wins, tying for fourth best in the league – including a streak of 10 wins out of 14 games.
  • The Liberty won four consecutive season ending games to advance to the Playoffs, first in the opening round versus the Indiana Fever, followed by the Conference Finals against the Washington Mystics.
  • The Liberty advanced to the WNBA Finals for the fourth time in six years, before falling to the Los Angeles Sparks, 2-0.
  • New York shot a franchise and all-time WNBA record 66 percent from the floor versus the Mystics on August 24, in game two of the Eastern Conference Championships along with scoring a franchise-high 96 points in the same game.
  • Weatherspoon became the first player in WNBA history to tally 1,000 points and 1,000 assists. Johnson became the first Liberty player and 11th in the WNBA to score 2,000 points. As a result of her dominant play, Phillips was named to the 2002 All-WNBA Second team.
  • For the first time in franchise history, four players finished the season averaging double-figures in scoring; Phillips (14.1), Whitmore (12.7), Robinson (11.8) and Johnson (11.6).
  • By posting a sixth consecutive winning record, the Liberty is also able to boast that they were one of only two teams in the WNBA to have had a winning record in each year the WNBA had been in existence.

2003

  • Sue Wicks, the Liberty's first ever draft pick, announced her retirement just prior to training camp.
  • New York started the season winning three of its first five games with guard Hammon leading the charge by averaging 18.6 ppg during that span.
  • On July 12, the organization hosted the 2003 WNBA All-Star game for the second time in franchise history.
  • At Connecticut versus the Sun on August 12, the Liberty overcame a 17-point deficit to post a 74-73 last second victory, which was the second largest comeback in team history. New York defied the odds a second time in Washington versus the Mystics on August 21, battling back from a 20-point halftime shortfall to mark the largest margin of a comeback victory (65-60) for the Liberty all-time.
  • In the strangest scenario all season, due to the New York City blackout on August 14, the Liberty became the first team in WNBA history to play three games in as many days – playing the first back-to-back-to-back in league history.

2004

  • The Liberty was feeling confident heading into its eighth WNBA season and sprinted out of the gate, posting a 6-1 record.
  • After encountering a rough patch in the middle of the season, Pat Coyle replaced Adubato as head coach and immediately turned the team around. Under Coyle’s guidance, the team registered an 11-6 mark and secured their sixth playoff appearance.
  • The Liberty played to sellout crowds for six games at the historic Radio City Music Hall and posted a 5-1 record.
    New York City’s “Great Stage” hosted The Game at Radio City, which featured the USA Women’s Olympic team vs. a WNBA Select Team.
  • In Game Three of the Playoffs first round, the Liberty knocked off the defending champion Detroit Shock. With the clock winding down, Becky Hammon dished off to Bethany Donaphin, who calmly drained a game-winning jumper and sent New York to the Eastern Conference Finals vs. the Connecticut Sun.

2005

  • The Liberty played five games in 10 days, winning each of them.
  • New York finished the season posting an 18-16 record, yet another winning year, resulting in another post-season appearance.
  • For its seventh playoff berth in nine years, the Liberty matched up against the Indiana Fever in the First Round.
  • Hammon was one of only two Liberty players (Vickie Johnson being the other) to start every game during the season. She was voted by the fans as a starter for the 2005 WNBA All-Star Game and recorded her 2,000th career point on August 16. To cap her stellar season, she was named to the All-WNBA Second Team.
  • Throughout the season: Vickie Johnson scored her 3,000th point, making her just the seventh player in WNBA history to accomplish this mark. Additionally, she pulled down her 1,000th rebound just over a month later. Elena Baranova recorded her 2,000th career point and Crystal Robinson notched her 500th rebound.

2006

  • New York, as well as the WNBA itself, celebrated its 10th Anniversary. The Liberty and Madison Square Garden also hosted the WNBA All-Star Game for the third time.
  • The franchise welcomed its two millionth fan and became the first team in the history of the WNBA to reach that mark.
  • New York became the first team in the WNBA to have its complete regular season aired on television, as Liberty games were seen on MSG Network, ABC and ESPN2.
  • In true New York spirit, the team rallied in the second half of the summer, finishing the season by winning seven of its last 10 games. 
  • Despite missing part of the season with an injury, Hammon still finished as the top free-throw shooter in the league (.960) and Erin Thorn led the WNBA in three-point shooting, posting a .431 average on the year.
  • The Liberty honored legend Teresa Weatherspoon by making her just the second woman to ever be inducted into the MSG Walk of Fame. As a finishing touch, her name and the number 11 is permanently displayed on The Garden court in front of celebrity row.

2007

  • In its 11th season, the Liberty carried its then youngest roster in franchise history.
  • On Opening Day, New York tied a Madison Square Garden record for the most three-pointers (13) in one game, against the Chicago Sky – leading to the team’s first season opening victory since the 1999 season.
  • The new-look squad went on to win its next four games for a roaring 5-0 start to the summer, the second best season start for the organization.
    In the entire history of the WNBA, never had two teams with at least 3-0 marks met face-to-face until the Liberty beat the Indiana Fever on June 5.
  • The Liberty went 6-4 in its final 10 games of the season and clinched the final Playoff for its eighth post-season campaign.
  • After capturing victory in Game One against the Shock – beating them by a franchise best 22-point margin – the Liberty lost by three points in Game Two and was within seconds of winning the series, but lost by one point in a Game Three overtime thriller.
  • Janel McCarville was named the WNBA’s Most Improved Player of the Year in her first season with the Liberty and Loree Moore earned second-team All-Defensive accolades for her third season in New York.
  • With a .372 percentage from three-point range on the year, New York wrapped the regular season as the League’s No. 1 overall leader and boasted five players in the WNBA’s Top 20 category of long-range shooters.

2008

  • With an average age of 24.4 to tip-off the summer, New York’s roster registered as the youngest in the WNBA for the season, in addition to the youngest in its 12 year history.
  • New York scored 100-plus (105) points for the first time in franchise history when hosting the defending WNBA Champion Phoenix Mercury on June 22. Ultimately winning the game 105-72, the Liberty’s bench out-scored the Mercury’s bench, 62-21 and set a new WNBA record for most points scored by a bench.
  • Just four days after recording the most points in club history, on June 26 the Liberty once again posted 100-plus points in a victory over the Indiana Fever – winning 102-96. The game went into triple overtime, a regular season first for both clubs and tied for the second longest in overtime periods in WNBA history.
  • On July 5, New York earned its 200th franchise victory with a win in Phoenix. The Liberty joined the Sparks, Comets & Monarchs as the only teams in the WNBA to reach the 200-win mark.
  • In front of a 19,393 fans, professional basketball history was made when the Liberty hosted the Fever at Arthur Ashe Stadium in the first regular season game to be played outdoors in the sport’s history. The game was also the first non-tennis sporting event to be held at the historic USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
  • Pat Coyle coached the young squad to the franchise’s first 19-win season since 2001, wrapping the regular season with a 19-15 record.
  • After topping the Connecticut Sun 2-1 in the first round of the WNBA Playoffs, the Liberty made its fifth appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals to face rival, the Detroit Shock. New York captured Game One, but was forced to a third match-up and lost the series 1-2.

2009

  • Coming off of an Eastern Conference Finals berth in 2008, the Liberty struggled mightily, posting their second worst record in franchise history and finished last in the Eastern Conference.
  • Pat Coyle was fired during the season, as assitant Anne Donovan took over as the interim coach. She finished with the season with a 7-10 record.
  • Shameka Christon shined on the team, as she was selected to her first All-Star game, the first Liberty since 2006 to be selected to the team. Christon was also named the WNBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week during the week of July 13, 2009. She led the team in points, scoring 16.1 points per game. Janel McCarville, the teams leading rebounder (5.5) and shot blocker (1.38), was second on team in scoring, scoring 12.1 points a night.
  • Christon had a career year for the Liberty. She scored her 2,000th point in her WNBA career, and scored a career high 32 points against the Atlanta Dream on July 19. For the Libs, four players finished in the top 10 of six statical leader boards.
  • On July 25, 2009, it was announced that long-time Liberty great Teresa Weatherspoon and five other players were to be inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

2010

  • During the offseason, the New York Liberty acquired two players, forward Nicole Powell and star guard Cappie Pondexter, in hopes of returning to the postseason.
  • After a slow start, the Liberty began a franchise best 10 game win streak, and finish second in the Eastern Conference. With home court advantage in its first round matchup against the Indiana Fever, the Liberty win both games at home to take the series 2-1. The Libs then faced off against the Atlanta Dream, but lost in both games of the series despite Pondexter's 30 points per game. It was the LIberty's third playoff berth in the last four seasons and tenth overall postseason appearance.
  • Pondexter provided the Liberty with a star player. She was selected to the 2010 WNBA All-Star Team, the All-Defensive First Team and the All-WNBA First Team. Pondexter also finished in the top 10 in 21 different statistical categories, including second in points per game (21.4) and sixth in assists per game (4.8).
  • Guard Leilani Mitchell was the WNBA's Most Improved Player and deadliest three-point shooter. Behind Mitchell's great shooting, the LIberty ranked first in three-point percentage (.405), third in free throw percentage (.817) and third in field goal percentage (.454). During a game against the Tulsa Shock on June 25, the team set the franchise record for most three-pointers made in a game (14).
  • Taj McWilliams-Franklin collected her 2,500th rebound, putting her second all-time behind Lisa Leslie (3,307)
  • On August 14, 2010, the Liberty set the franchise record with 107 points in a 107-69 victory over the Phoenix Mercury.

2011

  • The Liberty opened its 15th season on June 5, 2011 at the Prudential Center and ended the regular season with 19-15 record (.559), securing them the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Liberty posted a winning home record of 12-5 on the season.
  • Early in the season the Liberty acquired center Quanitra Hollingsworth from Minnesota. During the season the team acquired All-Star center/forward Kara Braxton from Phoenix
  • On August 18, 2011 against the Connecticut Sun, Liberty head coach John Whisenant earned his 100th regular season career win as a WNBA coach as the Liberty came back from 17 points down to beat the Sun.
  • Cappie Pondexter and Essence Carson were both selected to represent the Eastern Conference in the 2011 WNBA All-Star Game in San Antonio. Pondexter received the most votes of any Eastern Conference guard with 20,226. Carson’s nomination marks her first All-Star appearance in her four seasons with the WNBA.
  • With an 86-68 win over the Minnesota Lynx, the Liberty clinched a spot in the 2011 WNBA Playoffs making it the team’s 11th appearance in 15 seasons. They faced off against the first seeded Indiana Fever in the first round of the WNBA Eastern Conference Semifinals. They lost the series two games to one.
  • Four players finished the season in the WNBA’s Top Ten rankings in a number of categories: Cappie Pondexter third in minutes played (1151), sixth in points per game (17.4) and seventh in assists per game (4.7), Kia Vaughn fourth in offensive rebounds (96), Leilani Mitchell third in assists per game (2.5) and Kara Braxton sixth in field goal percentage (.500).