Home US SportsWNBA Liberty legend, Sky coach Teresa Weatherspoon talks NYC return, defeating former team

Liberty legend, Sky coach Teresa Weatherspoon talks NYC return, defeating former team

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For fans of the Liberty and the WNBA, the name Teresa Weatherspoon means a lot.

One of the original players when the WNBA started in 1997, Weatherspoon helped take the Liberty to the top of the league in its early years, leading the team to four WNBA Finals.

Thursday, Weatherspoon returned to New York City to take on the Liberty in her first year as head coach of the Chicago Sky.

“This place means a lot to me. Means a lot,” Weatherspoon said after the game. “I hope everyone can understand that, what it means to me… I played in that jersey, I adored that jersey. I adored every player I had the opportunity to play with. The love that I received, even today, was overwhelming.”

Weatherspoon’s grit and tenacity that made her a fan-favorite have seemingly rubbed off on her Sky team as Chicago handed the Liberty their first loss of the season on Thursday night at Barclays Center.

Chicago outrebounded, outplayed New York in the paint and forced more turnovers en route to their 90-81 win. Some of her players talked prior to tip about using Weatherspoon’s return to NYC as motivation to win this game for her, but for the former five-time All-Star, it was more about beating a good Liberty team.

“This is an incredible basketball team from top to bottom,” Weatherspoon said. “It was good to see our team as resilient as they were in a hostile environment.

“This is going to help us get better. A level of belief, a level of confidence that will carry us through the rest of this season. We’re going to meet up with even greater teams, meet up with New York down the stretch again. It’s going to be tough and we want to grow and grow in the right way.”

Weatherspoon said she was focused on the game and getting the win despite the questions and attention towards her return to face her old team.

But after the win, Weatherspoon let her guard down a bit and let her feelings towards the Liberty fans known.

“I didn’t play in Barclays I played at MSG so it was different for me, but I know the fans. There’s a connection, to see jersey No. 11 being worn and signs held up. It sent me back to playing in front of this amazing crowd. There’s a lot of love we have for each other.

“I would leave by saying how much I love and appreciate them and nothing will ever change that. Nothing.”

After eight seasons in the WNBA, Weatherspoon would coach in college before becoming an assistant coach with the New Orleans Pelicans before landing the head coaching gig in Chicago last fall.

Now that she’s back in the WNBA, the Liberty used the opportunity on Thursday to play a tribute video during the first quarter, which Weatherspoon said she didn’t watch but acknowledged the crowd after it played.

“They don’t have to do it for me but they do,” she said. “I’m going to show my love and appreciation. I hope everyone in New York City sees this, I love you all very much from the bottom of my heart. Me and my family we love you.”

When asked whether it was meaningful that the Liberty paid tribute to Sky assistant coach Crystal Robinson — who played with the Liberty from 1999-2005 — Weatherspoon answered in a way only “Spoon” could.

“Absolutely. She’s in the jersey too. She gave everybody everything she had. We’re Liberty for life, bro. Enough said.”

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