For all of their success and longevity in the WNBA, Liberty teammates Vickie Johnson and Crystal Robinson are the most accomplished players in WNBA playoff history not to have won a championship. And that is a distinction they would not mind shedding.

Crystal Robinson has played over 1000 minutes in her playoff career.
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As veteran members of one of the most successful teams in the WNBA's first nine seasons, Johnson and Robinson have been through almost everything together. From clutch game-winning shots to devastating losses, the Liberty have appeared in the playoffs in six of the past eight seasons and have gone to the Finals on four separate occasions, having lost to the Comets in 1997, 1999 and 2000 and then to the Sparks in 2002.

Yet, here they are again, about to face the Indiana Fever in the first round of the 2005 Playoffs. Guard Vickie Johnson is the last remaining original member of the Liberty and comes into Tuesday nights postseason opener as the all-time leader in playoff games played with 34, third in total minutes, fourth in field goals made, fifth in total points and eighth in total rebounds. In appearing in every one of New York's postseason games since 1997, Johnson has a record of 17-17 in her playoff career.

Johnson may have never been the face of the Liberty in her nine seasons, deferring to the boisterous Teresa Weatherspoon early on and to the flashy Becky Hammon the past couple of seasons, but Johnson has been the sturdy, reliable anchor in New York's lineup throughout. In six trips to the playoffs, Johnson averages 11.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg and 3.2 apg. She was also an All-Star in 1999 and 2001.

"V.J. means everything to this organization," Robinson said. "She is the engine that makes this team go and has been since the beginning. I don't care what anyone else does or how many points anyone else scores, because without V.J., this team won't win. All of her teammates know that and everyone just really appreciates the way she plays."

No one has played in more playoff games than guard Vickie Johnson.
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Robinson has been right beside Johnson for most of the Liberty's big playoff moments. She did not join the Liberty until 1999 after playing three seasons for Colorado's ABL franchise. But in five playoff appearances since, the daughter of two former college hoopsters averages 10.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg and 1.7 apg in her playoff career.

"Crystal is a great player," Johnson said. "She is one of the best shooters in the league. Unfortunately she broke her pink finger and she hasn't been shooting the ball as well since, but you have consider her other attributes just as much, and those are her great defense, her rebounding and just being intelligent on the court. She brings a lot to the table."

She is tied for fourth in total playoff games played with 32, fifth in total playoff minutes, ninth in total points and the all-time leader in three-pointers made in the postseason with 61.

"We have definitely been in some battles together, lots of playoff games won," Robinson said of Johnson."

In terms of career playoff games played, the threesome of Johnson, Robinson and Hammon are matched only by the Sparks trio of Lisa Leslie, Mwadi Mabika and Tamecka Dixon, also three original WNBA players, have played in 33, 33 and 32 career playoff games respectively.

"The other leaders up there all have a championship ring," Hammon said. All of the playoff career stat leaders are Houston, L.A. and New York, but we don't have those rings like they do."

Every player ahead of Robinson and Johnson on the total points list has won a title.

"Being among the playoff leaders but not having a championship like some of the others drives me a lot," Johnson said. "To win a championship would complete my career. But I know it takes a lot of hard work, team effort. It's not going to be easy. I've been in the Finals four times and haven't won one yet, but hopefully this is the year we can pull it together and get one."

Robinson longs to win a ring with longtime teammates Johnson and Hammon.
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"Man, that championship ring is what we play for," Robinson said. "That's what we practice for. That's the ultimate goal. We talk about it everyday. We talk about how we'd like to win a championship and we'd like to do it together.

But this group is not without their share of great playoff memories.

"Spoon hitting that shot in 1999 was a great memory that we all share," Hammon said. "We were all there. We've won a lot of Eastern Conference Championships together. The trip to the Finals used to run through New York, and we want to get that back. Last year, we beat in the first round and Bethany Donaphin's shot was a great moment. There have been a lot of great memories. But none of that really matters. What matters is the playoffs this year and going far, so we've been there."

And neither is ready to hang up the jersey, nor have they even hinted that the end is in sight.

"When you win, that's fun," Johnson said. “That's our goal We have to go into the playoffs rolling. We have to go to Indiana and pick it up on the defensive end. We have to go in there and make a statement. In order for us to advance to the second round, we have to beat Indiana on their court. It’s going to be very intense. We’ll be ready.”