When you do the work, good things follow. You’re dedicated to your craft, focused on getting better every day, and committed to being the best version of yourself. It sets the tone, creates a welcoming environment, and allows you to succeed in ways that once didn’t seem possible. The work is difficult, but is rewarding in a myriad of ways. And when others see and appreciate that work, it helps create long lasting relationships.
Since her arrival in 2021, Betnijah Laney has helped steer the Liberty in the right direction. She was an All Star in 2021 and hit clutch shot after clutch shot as the Liberty battled their way into the playoffs and in their last second loss to the Phoenix Mercury that year.
2022 was a tough year as Laney missed most of it recovering from knee surgery. However, even when she didn’t play, Laney was always there supporting and coaching up her teammates. Bee made it back and was instrumental to the team making it into the playoffs. Laney built on her late return and helped Team USA win gold at the FIBA World Cup in Australia that fall.
This year, she’s put together one of the best seasons of her WNBA career. She’s shooting a career high 50 percent from the field and has a shooting line of .500/.395/.781. With the amount of firepower the Liberty have on offense, it took time for the offense to gel and find that perfect balance. In an interview with Mark Schindler over at Compare Bet, Sandy Brondello spoke about Laney adapting to her new role:
“For B, it was, ok, you’re going to shoot a lot of threes, you’re gonna be a great defensive player, but we want you in transition. Now we’re finding areas where we can post her up and then get the ball to her on second and third side and make decisions with the ball in her hands, and that’s not easy you know, because her role has changed, but I think it’s made her an even better player. I’m really proud of her, because we wouldn’t be where we are today without what she brings on both ends of the floor.”
As our own Lucas Kaplan noted, if you put a smaller guard on Laney, she’s gonna make you pay for it
For as great as Bee has been on offense, it’s her defense that has really stood out. She’s routinely been tasked with guarding the opponent’s best scorer, whether it be DeWanna Bonner, Kelsey Mitchell, and everyone in between. Laney is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, and a key pillar of the Liberty’s culture
Laney’s all around excellence has paid off in a major way. On Saturday afternoon, the Liberty announced that they and Laney agreed to a multiyear contract extension.
In a press release, Liberty General Manager Jonathan Kolb spoke about the extension and spoke of Laney’s historical importance to the franchise:
“We’re beyond excited to extend Betnijah’s tenure with New York Liberty– further positioning the organization for long-term success. What she brings to the team on both ends, as well as intangibly, cannot be understated. There is no doubt in my mind B could see herself in the Liberty Ring of Honor someday as one of the franchise’s all-time greats.”
After the Liberty clinched the second seed by beating the Connecticut Sun on September 1, I asked Laney about her role in the franchise’s turnaround over the years:
“It’s very rewarding. You know, this is why we do what we do. We’re competitors. And, you know, we always strive for greatness. And so to be where we are now, especially coming from where we were, I think it just speaks to the organization, to the coaches, to the team, how much we put into this. And we’re just we’re just trying to go after our goal.”
With the playoffs beginning later this week, the Liberty are in great position to win their first WNBA championship. The players are dialed in, the team has continued to build its chemistry throughout the year, and they have the whole city behind them. With Betnijah Laney locked in for the foreseeable future, she will lead the team into an exciting, prosperous future.