The Spectacular Liberty, Representing NYC On and Off the Court

by Tate Hutchinson


With the top record in the WNBA and the star power to put them on a championship pace, the New York Liberty just keep rolling. Led by superstars Breanna Stewart and Sabrina Ionescu, this year’s Liberty team is off to the best start (18-4) in franchise history. Their scorching start through the first half of the season has built upon last year’s breakout, where the Liberty earned an appearance in the WNBA Finals. This year, however, the goal is clear: raise their first WNBA Championship banner in Barclays Center.

With a 5-0 record in qualifications for the Commissioner’s Cup, the team recently hosted their very first Finals for the WNBA’s in-season tournament. Despite playing an hour away from their home stadium, Liberty faithful filled UBS Arena on Long Island to cheer on their hometown team.

The Western Conference representative was the 14-4 Minnesota Lynx, having an outstanding resurgence after a pair of disappointing seasons. Led by rising superstar Napheesa Collier, Minnesota’s slow-paced and physical play style has them as the top defense in the league, posing a matchup challenge for the high-scoring Liberty.

This mismatch proved key in the matchup. For her 18th point late in the first half, Sabrina Ionescu hit a jumper to put the Liberty up double digits. In the second half, the stifling defense of Minnesota limited New York stars Ionescu and Jones to 2/11 shooting. Despite some late heroics from Breanna Stewart and five 3-pointers from Kayla Thornton, the Lynx forced a season-high 20 turnovers from New York in the game to take home the trophy in a 94-89 victory.

After that loss, the team is taking every game personally. Since their tough loss in the Commissioner’s Cup Finals, the defense of the Liberty has come up in a big way. In their next game, they faced the Atlanta Dream back in Brooklyn.

Led by Allisha Gray and Tina Charles, the Dream held a 14-point lead nearing halftime. However, the Liberty would go on multiple scoring runs and force 15 turnovers to outlast the Dream, 81-75. With a team-best 22 points in the victory, Breanna Stewart hit a key milestone, becoming the fastest to score 5,000 points in league history.

Especially in the win vs. Atlanta, German rookie Leonie Fiebich has found herself a massive role in the closing lineup due to her outstanding play on the defensive end of the floor, getting critical steals due to her activity and aggression.

“She didn’t just make shots, she created shots,” Coach Sandy Brondello highlighted her playmaking abilities despite her limited experience in the WNBA. “This is still a young player…but I love the confidence and the toughness that she brings to us.”

Responsible for two of the team’s few losses this season, the Lynx returned to NYC on June 2 for a duel with the Liberty. The rematch was as close as advertised for the entirety of the game, and the Lynx took a 65-61 lead with 8:00 left in the game.

From then on, the lineup of Ionescu, Fiebich, Betnijah Laney-Hamilton, Stewart, and Jones forced four turnovers and ten straight misses on a clutch 15-0 run.

The Liberty’s stifling defense held the West-leading Lynx to a mere eight points in the final frame, responsible for Minnesota’s only single-digit quarter of the season.

“We can be a great defensive team if we want it. It’s a commitment, and we committed to it,” Coach Brondello stressed the team’s hustle in the final minutes of this important game. “They’ve beaten us twice so you want to make sure you get one up over them, because we may meet them down the track.”

Star center Jonquel Jones, limited to seven points in their first two meetings, exploded for a game-best 21 points to go along with 12 rebounds and 4 assists.

“We had to get our lick back tonight.”

Jonquel Jones, Liberty Center and 2023 Commissioner’s Cup MVP

Though suffering from an illness, Sabrina Ionescu suited up in what she called “a huge game” for the team’s confidence.

“No matter how I felt, I was gonna leave everything out on the floor to want to come out here and win,” the under-the-weather Ionescu remarked in her postgame presser. “They’re a great team and they were 2-0 against us, so this was personal…we had to come out and play our best basketball.”

Alongside the wins, the accolades are pouring in. Jonquel Jones has been named a WNBA All-Star and will face off against Team USA Olympians Breanna Stewart and Sabrina Ionescu in the All-Star game on July 20. Ionescu was also just named the Eastern Conference Player of the Month with averages of 19.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game in June.

Despite the attention on the team being at an all-time high, Liberty players are not just here for the honors. The team’s players have stressed the importance of their championship aspirations this season, as winning for their teammates and their devoted New York fans mean more than individual awards and recognition.

“We’re trying to do more than just get accolades.”

Breanna Stewart, Liberty Forward and 2023 MVP


Even while the team works through a busy schedule this season, the Liberty are strongly dedicated to giving back to their community in New York City.

As part of the Commissioner’s Cup tournament, each team partnered with a charity to raise money for impactful issues. With their five victories in the Commissioner’s Cup tournament and their runner-up placement, the Liberty raised an incredible $20,000 for their local charitable partner, Women Creating Change.

The woman-led WCC works to advocate for reproductive rights and voting representation throughout the city’s diverse communities. This substantial donation will help fund the historic organization’s efforts to increase civic engagement in the community on the issues that matter, especially to the millions of women in New York City.

These contributions fall in line with the New York Liberty’s community service pillars: basketball, embrace, unity, and pride. These “B.E.U.P.” initiatives champion efforts to grow local youth basketball programs with camps and clinics, embracing and empowering girls to career aspirations through mentorship, speaking out for underserved communities to promote unity, and advocating for pride with the LGBTQ+ community.

Each holiday season, the Liberty host an all-encompassing “Season of Giving” event that exemplifies all four tenets of the team’s community goals. By partnering with 11 key partners, they were able to host a broad range of community-boosting events, ranging from free basketball clinics for over 100 girls to donations of coats to 300 New Yorkers in need and a career development event for young aspiring women professionals.


As The Harlem Times works to promote local youth basketball, we are excited to share today’s announcement of The New York Liberty’s first-ever “Summerpalooza,” a series of community events throughout New York City during the 2024 Summer break. All “Summerpalooza” events underscore an intentional focus to bring together the Liberty’s passionate community and fanbase and will conclude with The Brooklyn Dribble – the Liberty’s largest community event since the team relocated to Brooklyn.

The Brooklyn Dribble is a free, open-to-the-public event where thousands of youth participants and their families will dribble basketballs along a one-mile path in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The event will begin at Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6 and end at Pier 2 with a Liberty fan fest takeover featuring performances from Ellie the Elephant and the Timeless Torches, a D.J., food trucks, lawn games, face painting, airbrush tattoo artists, hair styling stations, basketball and more. The dribble parade begins at 10 a.m. and fans are encouraged to pre-register online at Basketballs and t-shirts will be provided for all participants.

“‘Summerpalooza’ is a rare opportunity to strategically engage and create spaces for the New York Liberty’s amazing fanbase outside of the arena during one of the best times of the year,” said Liberty CEO Keia Clarke. “As much as New York City, and Brooklyn in particular, has embraced the team and poured into us, now is our opportunity to do the same, and we are incredibly excited and eager to do just that. Additionally, the international diversity of our athletes will make for a uniquely exciting Olympic break as we come together to cheer on all members of the Liberty competing in Paris.”

As part of “Summerpalooza,” the Liberty will also host a youth basketball summer camp July 22-26 at Barclays Center presented by Ticketmaster. Throughout the week, a group of 50 girls in 6th-8th grades will participate in hands-on basketball learning and instruction from trained Brooklyn Basketball clinicians, and at the conclusion of camp will compete in a matchup on the plaza at Barclays Center.

The Liberty will also be active at various community events throughout the break where fans will have the opportunity to see the Timeless Torches perform as well as win Liberty merchandise and other giveaways. You can read the New York Liberty’s full “Summerpalooza” schedule (right) to celebrate summer with the team.

The Liberty have four games remaining before a month-long break for the 2024 Paris Olympics. And as Liberty players such as Breanna Stewart (USA), Sabrina Ionescu (USA), and Leonie Fiebich (GER) compete for their countries, the organization is still working hard to give back to the New York community.

“Summerpalooza” will continue the excitement of the team’s historic season, offering opportunities for fans to cheer on the Liberty’s representatives at the Paris Olympic Games.

The Liberty represent a major force of good for New York City, representing the five boroughs proudly both on and off the court. As they strive to raise their first banner for New York, the team is taking the time to make a difference in the community while they make history.

Additional information about Summerpalooza will be shared at and across the team’s social channels as each event becomes closer.

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