The festivities were pushed back a few days due to Tropical Storm Henri, but the joy and appreciation were not diminished as Crystal Robinson, who played with the New York Liberty from 1999–2005, was inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor. Several of her former teammates, including Teresa Weatherspoon and Kym Hampton, were on hand for the ceremony that took place at halftime of the game against the Phoenix Mercury on Aug. 25.
In her playing days, Robinson regularly interacted with the fans. She ran into several of those diehards the evening of her induction. “We had a group of fans when I played that had our numbers and the Liberty logo tattooed on them,” said Robinson, who did a book signing of her memoir, “Finding Myself,” prior to the game.
“What was going through my mind was all of the moments that I spent with my teammates,” said Robinson. During her time, the Liberty won three Eastern Conference Championships. “For me, it’s not about winning and losing. It’s about the battles that we fought together and the way we chose to stick together and the fashion that we chose to win in.
“We were a team that worked really extremely hard and expected a lot from each other and held each other to complete high standards,” she continued. “Being a part of that and seeing those people again is probably the biggest rush of adrenaline for me.”
In her coaching career, in addition to the college game, Robinson has served as an assistant coach for the Washington Mystics, the Seattle Storm and the Dallas Wings, but she always keeps an eye on the Liberty and has a deep affection for New York City. She enjoyed having the opportunity to talk to the current Liberty players. Robinson sees similarities between the current players and her teammates and said they have the talent to be really good, but noted this team needs to up their defensive play. She said DiDi Richards embodies the New York state of mind and Sabrina Ionescu has the potential to be a leader the way Weatherspoon was.
The game provided some special memories. The Liberty and the Mercury had a fierce rivalry when Robinson played. Those games were often sellouts in both cities. “We had an unbelievable rivalry,” she said. “We did definitely have some talk over on the sideline and Diana [Taurasi] has definitely given all of us headaches at some point in time.”