As the lone original WNBA franchise without a title, the New York Liberty has spent the off-season focused on building a roster that can get the job done. In the past few weeks, the team pulled off an elaborate trade that brought 2021 league MVP Jonquel Jones to New York. Last Thursday, the Liberty announced two high-profile free agent signings, 2018 WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart and two-time All-WNBA First Team honoree Courtney Vandersloot.
Clara Wu Tsai, vice chairman of BSE Global and governor, New York Liberty, described the signing of Stewart and Vandersloot as a new era for the franchise. When Joe Tsai acquired the Liberty in 2019, the team’s new leadership set about rebuilding the franchise. There were some lean times in 2019 and 2020, but the tide turned in 2021 and 2022 as the Liberty returned to the playoffs. Now, the team has signed some of the biggest names in women’s basketball.
Between them, Stewart and Vandersloot have won three WNBA titles. Although they have never played together in the WNBA—Stewart has spent her entire WNBA career with the Seattle Storm and Vandersloot with the Chicago Sky—they have played together overseas and wished to play together stateside.
“It’s much better to be on her side than playing against her,” said Stewart of Vandersloot. “Knowing we have all the pieces to go after a championship and now it’s just getting ready for that and getting ready for the season.”
While the Storm had won two championships before Stewart’s arrival, Vandersloot was an integral part of the Sky winning its first championship. “I do know how special that first one is,” Vandersloot said. “We have the right pieces. We have the right vision.”
In addition to Stewart and Vandersloot’s connection, both have played with Jones overseas. Also, Stewart played with Liberty players Betnijah Laney and Sabrina Ionescu as part of USA Basketball, winning a World Cup last October, and she played with Stefanie Dolson at University of Connecticut, winning two NCAA titles. Vandersloot and Dolson were both on the Sky’s championship team.
“It’s a really special opportunity because I think things like this don’t happen often where you have so much talent and so many amazing players,” said Stewart. “The selflessness of all of us is what is going to help all of us succeed.”