The New York Liberty defeated the Indiana Fever 77-74 in front of a raucous Madison Square Garden crowd that lifted their spirits when the team needed it most. But amongst the 16,682 fans in attendance, there were seven special guests on hand who were loudly and proudly cheering arm in arm as the Libs prevailed in thrilling fashion.
Those guests were the New York Knicks.
Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Ronny Turiaf, Toney Douglas, Anthony Randolph, Roger Mason Jr., and Patrick Ewing, Jr. were not just on hand to take in the game, they were on their feet screaming and cheering just like every other fan in the building.
“I am definitely a fan of the Liberty,” said Chandler. “I come to a bunch of games each year. They are a very talented group of women who I respect and to see them doing this well, it’s inspiring. It’s exciting.”
Douglas, entering his second year in the NBA, echoed those sentiments.
“This is good, man,” he said with a grin as he watched the action. “They support us and we support them. They are a real good team. They run a lot of impressive sets.”
Prior to tip-off, Turiaf, who was acquired earlier this summer, expressed his nervous excitement at the do or die scenario the Liberty were facing.
“This is awesome! This is what basketball should be all about – a situation like this with your backs against the wall and you have to step up to the plate. Personally, I’m really hoping they get the W today because I don’t want to be considered a bad luck charm at The Garden!”
Standing outside the locker room following the game, Ewing, Jr. spoke passionately about the bond between the Knicks and Liberty.
“It’s fun to watch them play. Those are our girls out there! We share the same facility and see them all the time. We talk to them all the time. They are like our sisters and we want to come out and support them just like during our season, if they are around, they will come out and support us.”
He also admitted to being slightly star struck at the immense talents of the Liberty’s MVP candidate.
“Cappie Pondexter is hands down the best basketball player I have seen in a long time. I mean, the way she plays is unreal. If she was a six-foot something male she would destroy the NBA. She has the talents to do that. She is that good. The last shot she did, behind the backboard, that was crazy!”
While all the Knicks in attendance were getting into the action, Gallinari was visibly on edge during the final, tension-fueled moments. He had his arms around his teammates during free-throw opportunities, was screaming and pointing out to officials and pumped his fist when it became clear the Liberty were advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals.
“It feels like being on the court for me when you have this type of game like there was tonight,” he said. “Now I want to see the Liberty in the Finals. I want to see them winning a championship. They can’t stop now.”