Sunday afternoon was incredibly special for the New York Liberty. The Barclays Center had a record-setting crowd cheering the home team. It was also the annual Women’s Health Game and fans attending the ‘clays were able to receive mammogram screenings, dance classes, and information provided by Empire BlueCross BlueShield, Shady Grove Fertility New York and the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.
The big game was broadcast on ABC where all the fans could tune in around the world. No need for a cable contract or a streaming subscription. And waiting for the Liberty were the amazing Las Vegas Aces. All the stars lined up for the Liberty and they had one of their best regular season games in franchise history as they dominated the Aces in a statement win. For Courtney Vandersloot, this game took on even more special meaning.
Last July, Courtney’s mom was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. The news was a shock to her, but personal and professional supports have helped the Vandersloots through this trying time. Prior to the game, Doug Feinberg of the Associated Press and Jackie Powell of The Next spoke about the support from the Liberty and its importance in promoting awareness about multiple myeloma:
Vandersloot had one of her best all-around games of the season as she scored ten points, grabbed four rebounds, and handed out six assists in 30 minutes of action. She and the Liberty were able to make life hard on the Aces guards and disrupt their legendary offense:
Think this was Sloot's best game as a POA defender all season, she picked quite a time for it: pic.twitter.com/q7wVwtxpSU— Lucas Kaplan (@LucasKaplan_) August 7, 2023
Moreover, the Liberty also donated $3,000 to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, $500 for each assist Sloot put up on the afternoon, something that will continue...
After the game, Sloot spoke about the campaign and what the game meant to her:
“I’m really grateful that the New York Liberty decided to do this and step up in this way for me, and my mom, and everything. To me, I went into [the game] and I kept saying, ‘I didn’t care how much it raised. It was just about awareness,’” she said.
“And the fact that they were willing to put up for every assist, it just means a lot to me. You know, obviously it’s going to continue on to the next three games. So, you know, maybe I’ll look forward to fundraising a lot more money. But like I said, this is just part of the process and I’m going to be involved in this in other ways, too. So the awareness and just being a part of it is really special to me.”
Vandersloot also picked up a special accomplishment along the way.
Climbing the ranks
Coming into the game, Vandersloot was in third place on the all time WNBA assist list with 2594. On her sixth assist of the evening, a post entry pass to Jonquel Jones in transition, she made history
Vandersloot passed the great Ticha Penicheiro and now has the second most assists in WNBA history with 2,600 and counting. The only player ahead of Sloot is Sue Bird with 3,234 assists. Erica Ayala of Black Rosie Media asked Vandersloot what it’s like to be in such good company on the all time assists list, and she said:
“That list when you look at it, [it has] some really incredible point guards, and just incredible players. And just to know that I’m at two right now is just kind of a little surreal for me, to be honest. I don’t know why this one is hitting a little bit harder than three and four, but maybe just because there’s one more name [above her on the list], which is a big one. But you know, it’s an honor. Obviously, I’m humbled to be just mentioned amongst them and just enjoying it.”
The Liberty have been a historically great passing team with “The General” leading the charge. As the team continues to get better, her excellence will be a driving factor in their success. Days like Sunday make you feel great as a Liberty fan on and off the court.