The New York Liberty dominated Indiana on Thursday night, winning by a whopping 36 points in the Fever's home opener. 

A sold-out crowd of 17,274 was in attendance to watch as star rookie Caitlin Clark finished the 102-66 defeat with nine points, seven rebounds, and six assists. It’s the first time since January 2021 — her freshman season at Iowa — that Clark's been held to single-digit scoring. 

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"The physicality is definitely up there... I'm easily pushed off screens," she told reporters after the loss. "The game seems a little fast for me right now. The more I play and the more comfortable I get, it's going to slow down a little bit. It will be easier for me to make reads, see things develop."

The Fever were outscored by a combined margin of 57 points in their first two games — the largest two-game point deficit in WNBA season-opening history, according to @ESPNStatsInfo.

"We've got to get to a level of toughness," Fever coach Christie Sides in her own postgame remarks. "When things are going south on us, we're not stopping the bleeding."

"I have great perspective on everything that happens," Clark added. "It was the same in my college career. There were some moments that were absolutely amazing. And there were some moments I was not happy with how I played and how my team performed. That's just life, that's just basketball."

Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu, who herself experienced a rocky rookie season following a much-hyped college career, offered up some insight on the matter.

"In this league, there are tough defenses all centered around not letting you get the ball, trapping, not letting you score," Ionescu said. "There were many factors that played into what was a tough first season for me in the league, but it helps you be able to figure it out. You have to have those experiences."

But it was reigning league MVP Breanna Stewart that truly stole the show, racking up 31 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two blocks on the night.

"In general, I just wanted to come out more aggressive coming off of last game," Stewart said after putting up the 24th 30-point game in her career.

Stewart she also commended the fans inside Indianapolis's packed Gainbridge Fieldhouse, noting that she hopes that level of support to continue across the WNBA.

"This is how you want every game to be and when it's a sell-out crowd, it gives you a similar playoff atmosphere feel," she said. "People want to be a part of this and the thing now is to continue to sustain it, continue to take the momentum that we have and turn it into something more."

Golden State Warriors’ star Steph Curry has a challenge for Sabrina Ionescu.

While he wasn’t named a starter for the NBA All-Star Game on Thursday, he hinted at his plans for at least one event during the weekend in Indianapolis. Curry is expected to be named a reserve for the All-Star game when it gets announced next week.

During a discussion with teammate Brandin Podziemski, Curry said that he might go up against Ionescu in the 3-point contest.

Ionescu scored 37 points in the WNBA’s 3-point contest last summer, besting Curry’s 31 points. The 37 points is an all-time record for both the WNBA and the NBA.

“Do you know who holds the record for the most points in a 3-point competition?” Curry asked his teammate, who answered correctly.

“I think I’ve got to bring her out,” he continued. “We gotta settle this once and for all.”

Ionescu later responded to the call-out, writing on social media that she accepted the challenge.

“Let’s getttttt it!! See ya at the 3 pt line,” she wrote.

Sabrina Ionescu’s signature shoe hit the market in 2023 as an instant hit, including among NBA players.

But for the New York Liberty guard, the sneaker was a long-held secret. In an essay for Boardroom, Ionescu writes about keeping that secret – and also what it has been like since the launch of the Nike Sabrina 1s.

Among the more startling experiences since the release was seeing a woman wearing the shoes in the grocery store.

“It was the first time I saw someone outside my team or my family repping Sabrina gear,” Ionescu wrote. “The feeling was just surreal. It made this whole journey toward getting a signature line that people all over could get their hands on feel … real.”

Just 11 WNBA players had signature shoes before Ionescu. So when Nike announced the deal, it made headlines.

Before that, Ionescu had to keep the secret of the shoe for an entire year – including from her own family. That made debuting the Sabrina 1s, and wearing them in a WNBA game, feel all the better.

“That day, and every day since, there’s just this feeling of awe, to be honest, of being able to play a game in my own sneaker,” she continued. “I felt rooted in the shoe, knowing what it stood for and the story I wanted to tell.

“Trust me: Keeping a signature shoe — one of your biggest dreams — a secret from your family for an entire year was hard.”

Even still, Ionescu had to explain the importance of a signature shoe to her family, including how having her name on the box and the details – some which are important to her Romanian heritage – set a signature shoe apart.

“It’s been funny these last couple of months because there is nobody from my family or my fiancé’s family that is not in Sabrina gear or Sabrina shoes … to everything that we go to,” she wrote. “It’s like a 30-person Romanian mob that walks around, all reppin’!”

Ionescu has watched as Nike decked out its first floor in New York City, as kids at her camp donned the shoes, and as NBA players including Jrue Holiday, Mikal Bridges and Jordan Poole started wearing them. It’s a testament to the nature of the shoe, which was designed for people of all genders and as a push for equality and bridging the gap in basketball.

Holiday was one of the first players, which Ionescu says is a testament to “where his heart is at in supporting women’s sports.”

“I’m not gonna lie – every NBA game that’s on, that’s all I’m watching for. Who’s wearing my shoes? Who’s got ’em on?” she wrote. “Every game, I just look for the vertical Swoosh that’s on the inside of the shoe.

“It’s crazy to think about now, but the vision that Nike and I had together has really come to life. The fact that the Sabrina 1 is existent now in the NBA, in college basketball, and in high school is what we were going for all along.”

One of the best players in the WNBA has high praise for New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu.

Phoenix Mercury veteran Diana Taurasi, called Ionescu “the ultimate competitor” while speaking with reporters at USA Basketball’s fall training camp. Both Taurasi, 41, and Ionescu, 25, are participating in the camp and exhibition games this month as the team prepares for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

“There’s not many players that I love to watch. Sabrina is one of them,” Taurasi said. “I just love her competitiveness. I love her dedication. I love the way she takes the game serious on and of the court.”

Ionescu keeps “the main thing, the main thing” — as in, basketball is front and center, Taurasi said. While Ionescu’s high profile — from her signature shoe to other big sponsorship deals — could be distracting, the New York Liberty guard doesn’t allow that to derail her.

“It’s one thing that I really appreciate about her,” Taurasi said of Ionescu, who helped lead the Liberty to the WNBA Finals in 2023.

Taurasi also recounted a story from 2019, when Team USA “got lit up” by Oregon in an exhibition game back when Ionescu still played for the Ducks.

“How she played against Tennessee is why she’s gonna be on this team for a long, long time,” she said. “She’s the ultimate competitor and the ultimate teammate, always looking to distribute, always looking to make the next connection.

“And I think that’s the beauty of her game and any day she can give you 30, but the way she sees the game and how quickly she makes decisions, it’s second to none.”

Ionescu responded to Taurasi’s comments. “My idol,” she wrote in reference to Taurasi.

When New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu was growing up, young boys on the court told her she “shouldn’t be playing with [them].” Now, her signature sneakers grace the feet of male and female hoopers alike — and their popularity transcends the sport of basketball.

Ionescu’s shoes, the Sabrina 1s, released Sept. 1 as Nike’s first unisex shoe collection. She and fellow WNBA star Elena Delle Donne are the first women in a decade to collaborate on signature sneaker designs with Nike.

Since their release, Sabrina 1s have been spotted on the court in the NBA. Mikal Bridges, Jrue Holiday, DaQuan Jeffries and Jordan Poole are among the stars seen sporting Ionescu’s sneakers. Even NBA officials have supported the Sabrina 1s.

Brooklyn Nets forward Bridges rocked Sabrina 1s before their release, wearing them to FIBA World Cup practices and even to Nets media day.

“Yes [I’ll be wearing Sabrinas this season] — pretty much them and I’m going to test out those Devin Booker 1s when they come out, too,” Bridges told The Sporting News.

On July 23, when Ionescu threw a ceremonial first pitch during the Subway Series at Yankee Stadium, New York Yankees players were photographed wearing Sabrina 1 spikes in the dugout, and Nike gifted her with a pair to celebrate her accomplishment. Even before their release, Ionescu’s signature shoes had escaped the basketball court.

When designing her sneakers, Ionescu told CBS Mornings that she set out to make a shoe for anyone, regardless of gender — and she hit her mark.

“When I was in the process of designing this shoe I wanted anyone anywhere to be able to put this shoe on and accomplish whatever it is that they wanted to,” Ionescu said.

Brooklyn Nets wing Mikal Bridges wears Sabrina 1s during an Oct. 25 game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

New York Liberty players took exception to Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum’s criticism of their team following the WNBA Finals.

The Aces won a second consecutive WNBA championship, running it back with a very similar lineup to their 2022 title-winning season. After Wednesday’s series-clinching win, Plum pointed to Las Vegas’ long journey to that point — as compared to New York, which assembled its roster in the 2023 offseason.

“There was a lot of years that we weren’t so super,” she said. “But you can’t build a superteam in a couple of months. It takes years.”

Plum also questioned the Liberty’s team mentality.

“We also knew that, as much as they’re a team, they’re not a team, if that makes sense,” she told Yahoo Sports. “They’re really good individual players, but they don’t care about each other. And you can tell in those moments. They revert back to individual basketball.”

On Friday, Liberty players called out Plum’s comments in their end-of-season interviews.

“I think it’s easy to kick people when they’re down and you’re up, and honestly to me, it felt classless,” Jonquel Jones said. “You could celebrate with your team, and instead you chose to essentially s— on someone else.”

Sabrina Ionescu pushed back on the notion that New York isn’t a team, saying that “couldn’t be further from the truth.”

“I’ve never been on a team that’s been more committed to one another than what it’s been like this year,” she said. “We had players that came together in a short amount of time… to try to win.”

Breanna Stewart sidestepped a question on Plum’s criticism, calling the Aces “phenomenal” and congratulating them on their win.

“Win or lose, we’ll just continue to carry ourselves with grace and keep that going forward,” she said.

Head coach Sandy Brondello admitted she had not looked much at social media since her team’s loss Wednesday, but she did say that what Plum said about the Liberty is “wrong.”

“I don’t even think I should comment, because I know it’s not true,” she said. “This team has grown so close together in a short period of time, and what Kelsey said is wrong.”

Plum then took to social media to clarify her comments.

“Since the media wants to do click bait, imma cut this drama out right now so we can move on and be in peace,” she wrote on X. “What I said was taken extremely out of context. I was trying to articulate my teammates and I have been through a lot and we used our bond to get over the hump.”

She also apologized for how her words came on, noting that she didn’t intend to “throw shade.”

“Never been the type to throw shade, quite the opposite actually,” she continued. “I see how it came off, never was my intention and I apologize. Our game grew immensely from this series, don’t let this bull shit detract from the biggest win here.”

New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu used Steph Curry’s signature “night night” celebration after hitting a key 3-pointer in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals.

When the Las Vegas Aces clinched the 3-1 series win over the Liberty in Game 4, Sydney Colson remembered.

As the Aces celebrated Wednesday’s 70-69 win and their second straight WNBA title, Colson shared a message with ESPN’s Holly Rowe and with the crowd at New York’s Barclays Center.

“People wanted to count us out because we had two of our starters down, but they don’t know we’ve got some dogs on this team,” Colson said. “So I’ve got two words to say: night night!”

Colson later clarified to reporters that Ionescu told her to “take her ass to the bench” earlier in the season. The 34-year-old Aces guard took issue with the trash-talking, tweeting on Wednesday that “if you play in my face and start being disrespectful, then ima match that energy.”

As Colson mentioned, Las Vegas played the deciding game of the series without two of its five starters. Chelsea Gray and Kiah Stokes were sidelined with foot injuries sustained in Game 3, pushing Colson and Aces forward Cayla George into much bigger roles on Wednesday night.

Colson played 14 minutes off the bench, while George started in place of Stokes and matched her season high with 11 points in 30 minutes.

Sabrina Ionescu performed the "night night" celebration after hitting a key 3-pointer during New York's Game 3 win. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

ESPN commentator Michael Wilbon called out Barclays Center as “the worst home-court advantage” across the WNBA and the NBA. But the New York Liberty attracted a raucous crowd for their WNBA Finals win over the Las Vegas Aces.

Indeed, the 87-73 victory drew in 17,143 fans, setting a WNBA gate receipt record. No WNBA game ever has brought in more ticket revenue than Sunday’s contest, a sellout of Barclays Center.

“We knew that our fans were going to be behind us and New York was going to be watching and supporting and that’s what we wanted to do, go out there and play with a lot of pride and a lot of heart,” Liberty forward Jonquel Jones said after the game.

On Friday, Wilbon had picked the Aces to win the game and to sweep the best-of-five championship series on ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption.”

“They are barely awake in Brooklyn,” Wilbon said. “It is the worst home-court advantage, home-court situation in terms of spirit, in the entire NBA — all 30 teams (maybe Washington) — and the entire WNBA — all whatever it is, 12 teams?

“It’s the worst. There’s nothing to rally the Liberty. I want to see a series, it’s not happening. … Brooklyn’s home-court situation? It stinks. It’s dark and quiet, it’s like a library. … You hipsters better get a real arena because you stink right now.”

New York extended the series, proving wrong Wilbon’s prediction and assessment of the crowd. Rather than gloat over the accomplishment, Liberty owner Joe Tsai responded by extending an invitation to Wilbon for Game 4, which is set for 8 p.m. ET Wednesday at Barclays Center.

“We’d like to invite @RealMikeWilbon to his first WNBA game on Wednesday at Barclays Center,” Tsai wrote on X after the game.

Sabrina Ionescu also commented on the Barclays Center crowd after the win.

“It’s not always that loud at Nets games,” she said. “So for us to be able to see how much support women’s basketball has, the Nets are here in attendance, always all season long supporting us… we just have great fan base that we built here.”

The New York Liberty are still alive.

Facing elimination in the 2023 WNBA Finals, the Liberty defeated the Las Vegas Aces, avoiding a series sweep with an 87-73 in Game 3.

The Liberty lost the first two games of the best-of-five championship series but rebounded with a victory in front of a sold-out crowd at Barclays Center. So far, the Finals have mirrored the regular-season series between the two superteams, as Las Vegas and New York each won the two games on their home courts.

The teams will play Game 4 at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday in New York. If necessary, Game 5 will be held at 9 p.m. ET Friday in Las Vegas.

Star center Jonquel Jones led the way for New York, scoring 27 points and bringing down 8 rebounds. Sabrina Ionescu dictated the tone of the Liberty’s offense, recording 11 assists along with 9 points.

Kelsey Plum scored 29 points in a losing effort for the Aces. Another significant loss for Las Vegas came in the fourth quarter, as guard Chelsea Gray exited the game with an apparent leg injury.

Playing in its first WNBA Finals since 2002, New York came out firing in Game 3 after losing the first two games of the series in Las Vegas. Head coach Sandy Brondello’s team led by three points at halftime before breaking the game open over the final two quarters.

The win came in front of an announced 17,143 fans at Barclays Center, the highest gate receipt ever for a WNBA Finals game. Dawn Staley, Joan Jett, Tony Parker and Jason Sudeikis were among those in attendance.

The makings of the New York Liberty’s first WNBA Finals run since 2002 started in the offseason, when the team assembled what many have called a superteam.

Just few days after the 2022 season ended, general manager Jonathan Kolb already was making plans, and in his mind were three players to chase in the offseason: Breanna Stewart, Jonquel Jones and Courtney Vandersloot.

One by one, the dominoes fell. First came Jones, as the 2021 WNBA MVP was acquired via trade from the Connecticut Sun in January.

The signing of Stewart came afterward, but the seeds of the deal dated back to the previous offseason. Stewart met with the Liberty ahead of the 2022 season, but she did not want to leave retiring star Sue Bird in her final season with the Seattle Storm. One year later, though, all bets were off.

Kolb flew with other Liberty executives to Istanbul, where Stewart was playing in the offseason, to make their case. From that point on, there wasn’t anywhere else for the league MVP. On Jan. 31, she informed the Liberty of her plans to sign with them, and she did so the following day, the first day that free agents could sign contracts.

One day after that, Courtney Vandersloot joined the party. While she came close to signing with the Minnesota Lynx, another phone conversation with Kolb and Brondello the day before her signing changed her mind.

“When we put this team together, obviously the goal was to bring in the talent and let’s make a run for this,” head coach Sandy Brondello said Sunday. “And we certainly did that. Jonathan did a great job, and these players believed in the vision that we laid out to them to try and convince them to come to New York.”

While Kolb and Brondello brought the pieces together, the players themselves needed to find their rhythm. They started the season out of sync at times, but they found their groove, and they are sailing into the WNBA Finals against the Las Vegas Aces.

“I only spoke about championships [on] day one, and then it was over. Because you have to do a lot of hard work,” Brondello said. “It was a journey. I think early on people think you just snap your fingers and it’s gonna work. But it takes time. We got five new players trying to learn to play with each other. … We faced some adversity still but we had built up so much connection and commitment that we could overcome those.”