Coach Bill Laimbeer said the New York Liberty is still a work in process, but he is glad that New York fans got to experience the team’s chemistry in the home opener, an 82-73 win over the Atlanta Dream. Rookie guard Brittany Boyd scored 14 points in the game and had four steals—something Liberty fans haven’t seen a lot of in recent years.
“You saw some young players [the fans] could really identify and grow with,” said Laimbeer. “One game doesn’t mean anything, but as I’ve said the last couple of weeks, I like this basketball team. I like who they are. Now let’s see how it translates into wins and losses.”
Beyond the on-court action, the conversation keeps returning to Isiah Thomas, who was named the Liberty’s president last month. Before the home opener, there was a small protest outside of Madison Square Garden during which participants wore T-shirts proclaiming “I Am Anucha Browne,” referencing the former Knicks executive who sued Madison Square Garden and Thomas for sexual harassment. The Women’s Sports Foundation and other advocates for women’s sports continue to voice their disapproval of Thomas being in a leadership position of a women’s team.
Laimbeer and the players say the debate does not involve them. They prefer to focus on basketball.
“[The players] are going to have some fun. They care about basketball,” said Laimbeer, who said he respects Thomas’ basketball knowledge and feels he has the best intentions to make the Liberty a championship team.
For veteran guard Tanisha Wright, playing for the Liberty is a homecoming. Born in Brooklyn and raised in Pittsburgh, she spent summers throughout her childhood in New York City. Playing with family around is exciting. Laimbeer has said Wright was signed to bring leadership, which comes naturally to her.
“Especially with such a young group, it’s a calming factor for them,” said Wright, who was impressed with the ability of the team to withstand Atlanta’s runs. “I thought the rookies played with poise. We got great contributions from everybody that stepped on the court. It was great teamwork.”
Saturday, the Liberty lost a close battle with the Washington Mystics. Tuesday night, they kept their home court streak intact with an 86-79 win over the Indiana Fever. There are home games at the Garden tonight and again Sunday.