It was a familiar battle—the New York Liberty versus the Los Angeles Sparks, the teams that met in the first-ever WNBA game. On Sunday, the Liberty, which has had some good wins as of late but still doesn’t have consistency, battled the Sparks in Los Angeles. The Sparks are playing under interim head coach Fred Williams.
“It starts on the defensive end, but we were worried about our offense,” said Liberty head coach Sandy Brondello after New York’s 84–74 loss. The Sparks started to take control of the game in the third quarter. “We weren’t getting the best shots. We talk about good to great. We didn’t play as a team, simple as that. Momentum changed and we couldn’t get it back.”
The Liberty was short-handed with Betnijah Laney and Jocelyn Willoughby out for the near future and Sami Whitcomb resting an ankle injury. French player Marine Johannes was the top scorer against the Sparks with 17 points. She previously played for the Liberty in 2019 and her return has been very strong.
“I feel comfortable on the court with them,” said Johannes. “The team helped me a lot and the coaching staff too. About tonight, I made some mistakes at the end and I think I have to improve.”
The Liberty takes on the Phoenix Mercury tonight to wrap the West Coast road trip. The team returns to Barclays Center on Tuesday night against the Las Vegas Aces and plays the Aces again on Thursday morning in a camp day game. New York fans will get to see former Liberty player Becky Hammon (1999–2006) in her new role as head coach of the Aces.
The WNBA All-Star Game is this Sunday in Chicago, home of the defending WNBA Champion Chicago Sky. Liberty players Sabrina Ionescu and Natasha Howard will be playing. The game will be preceded by WNBA Live, a two-day outdoor fan festival at McCormick Place. Fans will get to interact with WNBA players present and past as well as obtain exclusive WNBA merchandise.
While the events under this name are being called new, it’s really harkening back to the league’s early All-Star Games. Anyone who took in the inaugural All-Star in 1999 will remember the excitement and energy as players greeted fans on the streets around Madison Square Garden. It’s uplifting to see the WNBA celebrating its fans with such enthusiasm.