In her first game back at Climate Pledge Arena since leaving the Seattle Storm for the New York Liberty, Breanna Stewart dealt with a deluge of emotions.
“It was an emotional rollercoaster of a day for me,” Stewart said after the game, earning her a supportive pat on the back from Liberty head coach Sandy Brondello.
Competing with a black eye she picked up over the weekend, Stewart struggled in the first half of Tuesday night’s game, scoring eight points.
“In the first half, I was just floating. I don’t think I was really doing anything,” she said.
The two-time WNBA Finals MVP gave herself a halftime pep talk to help turn things around: “I was like, ‘C’mon, let’s get my s— together.”
Stewart went on to record 25 points and 11 rebounds in New York’s 86-78 win, handing her old team its third straight loss to start the season.
In doing so, Stewart became just the second WNBA player to record at least 25 points and 10 rebounds in a first game against a former team, according to ESPN Stats & Info. The other WNBA player to achieve the feat was Chamique Holdsclaw, who scored 27 points and 10 rebounds for the Los Angeles Sparks against the Washington Mystics in 2005.
Sabrina Ionescu added 20 points in the win, while Courtney Vandersloot contributed 11 assists.
For the Storm, Jewell Loyd recorded 26 points, while Ezi Magbegor added 12 and recorded a career-high 14 rebounds.
“So weird to play against Jewell. We really haven’t done it since college,” Stewart said of her former WNBA teammate. “We still had the competitors in us, but also very light-hearted. Like, at one point, I slapped her in the face, and it was like, you know, we were in practice. I wish her and Ezi and (Mercedes Russell) the rest of them nothing but success.”
Earlier this month, Stewart made some Storm fans a little salty when she told a packed crowd at Barclays Center that she “made the right decision” in choosing the Liberty. But the former Storm star received a warm welcome at Climate Pledge Arena. After the game, she also got a hug from retired teammate Sue Bird, who had a front row seat to Tuesday night’s game.
A moment between former teammates - we love to see it 🧡@breannastewart and the @nyliberty pick up the 86-78 win over the Storm in her first game back in Climate Pledge Arena pic.twitter.com/URwZa83jQq— WNBA (@WNBA) May 31, 2023
A moment between former teammates - we love to see it 🧡@breannastewart and the @nyliberty pick up the 86-78 win over the Storm in her first game back in Climate Pledge Arena pic.twitter.com/URwZa83jQq
Stewart isn’t the only player on the Liberty facing down a former team this week. On Saturday, New York defeated Jonquel Jones’ old team, the Connecticut Sun. On Friday, New York will tip off against the Chicago Sky, Vandersloot’s former team.
“We were joking in the locker room about it being a revenge tour,” Ionescu said.
Stewie had time a tonight! Our @Withings Player of the Game finished with 25 PTS | 11 REB | 2 BLK | 2 STL pic.twitter.com/N1Qb4Fggyr— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) May 31, 2023
Stewie had time a tonight! Our @Withings Player of the Game finished with 25 PTS | 11 REB | 2 BLK | 2 STL pic.twitter.com/N1Qb4Fggyr