The Liberty are home. Not only are they less than a month away from their return to New York City after two years in White Plains and one in the Bradenton “wubble,” they’re practicing at Barclays Center.
The court may be new — the small one off the arena’s entrance plaza — but as Sarah Valenzuela of the Daily News wrote Tuesday, it’s also normal, what professional players expect.
“It’s an experience where we’re definitely glad to be back in New York, out of the bubble, playing in Barclays, practicing in Barclays, and just being in Brooklyn,” said Jazmine Jones now in her second year in the WNBA, “and then hopefully the season playing in front of our fans and stuff like that, so we can get the full WNBA experience safely.
“I mean, we were blessed with the gym in the bubble... but now just being able to have our own space and things like that and be as loud as we want to on the court is nice and have our privacy and everything.”
The Liberty tweeted out two very excited endorsements, one from Jones and another from rookie Michaela Onyenwere...
Can’t wait to see the rook put in work!— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) April 26, 2021
The practice court, now adorned with both Nets and Liberty logos, was never intended to be the Nets’ main practice court but it’s certainly up to NBA and WNBA standards.
(The Nets last used it back in 2012 after Super Storm Sandy left dead fish in the weight room at the Meadowlands practice facility.)
“It’s been really nice,” head coach Walt Hopkins told Valenzuela. “That’s one of the first things we talked about yesterday, when we kicked things off. Getting to have a home, getting to see your colors and your logo. Getting to have a sense of routine in terms of staying in your own place and having your own space... In addition, just to have somewhere where you’re familiar with the court and with the locker room and all that stuff.”
The Liberty, in fact, have a brand new locker room at Barclays Center.
Will it translate on the court ... and will there be fans in the stands? There’s been no word yet on tickets or capacity when the Liberty open their season on May 14 vs. Indiana. The YES Network schedule is also yet to be announced.
There are plenty of indications of untapped interest in the Liberty. Before they were exiled to the Westchester County Center in 2017, they were among the WNBA’s leaders in attendance, finishing in the top four in WNBA attendance in all 18 seasons they played at the Garden, averaging 9,888 in that last season at MSG. Then, before the pandemic, the Liberty drew 7,715 fans to a regular season game at Barclays against the Seattle Storm and another 4,155 for an exhibition game vs. China’s national team.
The WNBA, now celebrating its 25th anniversary, is starting to boom for a variety of reasons — one of them the Libs’ return to the city.
- Liberty kick off training camp at Barclays Center, glad to finally be able to work in new home - Sarah Valenzuela - New York Daily News