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.”

The New York Liberty are on the brink of elimination in the WNBA Finals. And coach Sandy Brondello thinks she has the solution: an attitude adjustment.

“It’s about action now,” she told the media. “No f—ing feelings anymore.”

Entering Game 3 on Sunday at Barclays Center, the Liberty are trailing the Las Vegas Aces 2-0 in the series. After a dominant regular season, Brondello’s team has been outscored 99-82 and 104-76 in the series.

“We’re all disappointed, angry, embarrassed, with how we played,” Brondello continued. “I think we have all those emotions, but it’s about action now, not emotion. It’s about what you can do. Not how you’re feeling … Feelings blind us, you know what I mean? It’s like, feel them and express them, and get them out. Now focus on what you can control — it’s actions, not emotions.”

Liberty star Breanna Stewart, in particular, struggled in Game 2, scoring just 14 points on 6-of-17 shooting. Stewart echoed Brondello’s theory for the team’s struggles.

“I think that our mental was kind of all over the place,” she said.

The Liberty had some success against the Aces before the series, beating them in the Commissioner’s Cup championship game. The teams split four regular season matchups. But when it matters most, the Liberty have looked like a shell of their past selves.

Brondello thinks it’s time for her team to toughen up.

“We still have an opportunity here,” Brondello said. “We learn and we’re staying in the moment, but we’ve got to do what we’re supposed to do, and that’s how we can help each other.”

The Las Vegas Aces are betting favorites to win the 2023 WNBA Finals over the New York Liberty. Yet recent history between the two teams suggests that maybe it should be the other way around.

The best-of-five series could go down in history as one of the best ever. A battle between two superteams, the Liberty are making their first Finals appearance since 2002, while the Aces are looking to repeat as champions.

Still, even after Las Vegas’ historic 34-6 season, New York has had them on the ropes.

The teams split their regular season meetings, 2-2, with each team winning the games on its home court. But in a fifth meeting, in the 2023 Commissioner’s Cup final on Aug. 15, the New York Liberty emerged victorious, 82-63.

The Aces’ first win against the Liberty came back in June. The next four games in their 2023 series came in August, and the Liberty held a 3-1 record in those contests, including the Commissioner’s Cup final. And it’s those four games that New York head coach Sandy Brondello thinks will make the Finals interesting.

“It helped us a lot, playing [those four times] in August,” she said. “The chess match begins now. … I’m excited, I know Becky will be excited. It’ll be a hard-fought battle, and we’re battle tested, so I look forward to that.”

It’s also, as she pointed out, the superteam “narrative” that WNBA fans have been eying from the start of the season. Regardless of which team wins the series, one could argue that as a whole, the league has won this season.

“I think it’s good. That’s the narrative everyone wanted for the start,” Brondello said. “I didn’t like the superteam thing, but these players, they’ve played great. I think it’ll be a great series, and it’s good promotion for the WNBA.”

New York will start the series with two games on the road after the Aces locked down the No. 1 overall seed. And it’ll be a testy atmosphere at Las Vegas’ Michelob Ultra Arena, with both games having already sold out. The Aces haven’t lost much at home this season, and the Liberty have electrified their city too.

Like Brondello said, it’s going to be a battle.

“This is a special group,” Aces guard Chelsea Gray said. “Our composure in our huddles and how tight and how locked in we were with each and every person, whether you’re in the game or out the game, anybody that came in knew what we were doing, especially on the defensive end. So I wouldn’t want to go to war with anybody else.”

Skylar Diggins-Smith seemed to call out the Phoenix Mercury on social media Sunday after Sandy Brondello led the New York Liberty to the 2023 WNBA Finals in just her second year as head coach.

Brondello, 55, formerly served as head coach of the Phoenix Mercury from 2014 to 2021, leading the team to the WNBA title in 2014 and to the playoffs in every one of her eight seasons. But following the 2021 season, in which the Mercury lost to the Chicago Sky in the Finals, the team opted to move on from Brondello and did not renew her contract.

Since then, the Mercury have struggled, which resulted in the team parting ways with Brondello’s replacement, Vanessa Nygaard, midway through 2023. They also failed to make the WNBA playoffs this season for the first time since 2012.

Brondello, meanwhile, joined the New York Liberty in 2022. One season later, she has led the superteam to its first WNBA Finals appearance since 2002.

“Damn, it’s almost like Sandy is a good coach?” Diggins-Smith wrote on social media.

Diggins-Smith, 33, has been at odds with the Mercury organization since the end of last season. She gave birth to her second daughter this year, and she remained on maternity leave for the entire 2023 season. She’s set to be a free agent this offseason and all signs point to a departure from Phoenix.

Recently, Diggins-Smith said that she wants to feel “supported and welcomed” by her next WNBA team.

The WNBA’s 2023 end-of-season awards have been debated all season long. The MVP category has naturally received the most attention because of the nature of the award and the tight race among the three frontrunners: Alyssa Thomas, Breanna Stewart and A’ja Wilson.

As a WNBA media voter, I submitted my selections for all of the major awards toward the end of the regular season. After a full-season review and careful consideration, these were my choices.

Most Valuable Player

Alyssa Thomas, Connecticut Sun

The MVP award came down to a three-player race between Wilson (Aces), Stewart (Liberty) and Thomas (Sun). All three have compelling cases that made this the most difficult category to vote for. To me, though, Thomas’ overall importance to her team and her ability to impact every aspect of the game gives her the edge.

Thomas accomplished something this season that no other player in WNBA history has done, recording six triple-doubles in 2023. Her ability to impact the game can’t be understated, as she does everything for the No. 3 Sun.

She leads Connecticut with 15.5 points, 9.9 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 1.8 steals per game, and she is first in the WNBA in rebounds and second in assists.

When 2021 WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones was traded to New York in the offseason, it was hard to imagine Connecticut being the third-best team in the WNBA heading into playoffs, yet here they are. That’s because of Thomas. She runs Connecticut’s offense and guards every position on defense.

Teammate DiJonai Carrington summed up Thomas’ performance well after her third triple-double of the season: “I don’t want any of y’all to get used to and normalize what she’s doing out there, for real. Like, that’s not normal.”

It’s not normal, it’s historic. And that is worthy of the MVP award.

Coach of the Year

Sandy Brondello, New York Liberty

(Catalina Fragoso/NBAE via Getty Images)

In her second year with New York, Sandy Brondello took the Liberty from a 16-20 record to a 32-8 record. During the offseason, the Liberty saw an influx of talent with the additions of Stewart, Jones and Courtney Vanderlsoot. But Brondello’s coaching can’t be discounted simply because she now has more tools. Sure, the new talent is a large part of the franchise’s improvement, but it’s not the only piece.

Brondello was able to take a team that early in the season looked like a collection of stars who didn’t know how to play together, and turn it into a cohesive unit that is a favorite to win the WNBA title. Brondello found a way to maximize the talent of her starting five and use her bench unit wisely to elevate the whole team.

Sixth Player of the Year

DiJonai Carrington, Connecticut Sun

(M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

There were several strong candidates for Sixth Player of the Year: Dana Evans helped the Sky overcome in-season adversity and sneak into the playoffs, and Alysha Clark changed the complexity of Las Vegas on both ends of the court when she entered games. But for me, the award should go to Connecticut’s DiJonai Carrington.

Early in the season, Carrington’s role was unclear and she played limited minutes. But the third-year player stayed the course and became a valuable part of the Sun playing their way to the 3-seed. In 17.2 minutes per game, she’s shooting 37% from long range and averaging 8.3 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.

Carrington brings an energy to both ends of the floor when she’s subbed in. Coach Stephanie White often chooses to leave her in during close game situations down the stretch, summing up her impact.

Most Improved Player

Jordin Canada, Los Angeles Sparks

(Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)

It was an up-and-down season for the Sparks as they narrowly missed the playoffs, but Jordin Canada was a constant bright spot. In her second year with Los Angeles, the 28-year-old established herself as a point guard to build around.

Canada improved in every stat category this season, with career-high averages in points (13.3), assists (6.0), rebounds (3.1) and steals (2.3). Her 3-point shooting also saw a massive increase, going from 14% to 33%.

Canada has a hand in every Sparks possession when she’s on the court, both offensively and defensively. She averages 2.8 steals per 40 minutes, the best mark in the WNBA, and was also in the running for Defensive Player of the Year.

Rookie of the Year

Aliyah Boston, Indiana Fever

(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

This award has been Boston’s to lose all season. While Lynx guard Diamond Miller made a push when she returned from injury, Boston was steady from her first game to her last, earning her my vote.

The No. 1 draft pick averaged 14.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks per game for the Fever. She was also incredibly efficient when shooting the ball, making 57.8% of her attempts, the third-best mark in the league.

Though her team missed the playoffs, they improved drastically from last season, and Boston was a big part of that. Rookie of the Year is likely the first of many awards Boston will win throughout her career.

Defensive Player of the Year

A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces

(David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images)

Wilson earned my vote for the second year in a row because she continues to change the way opponents play against the Aces. Her presence in the paint is enough to make players shy away from driving to the lane, and when they dare to challenge her, Wilson leads the league in shot-blocking with 2.2 per game.

Wilson isn’t just a shot-blocker, either. She knows how to defend without fouling, averaging only 2.1 fouls per game, while pulling down the third-most defensive rebounds in the league. She also has good hands defensively and can extend outside the paint with 1.4 steals per game.

All WNBA First Team

Breanna Stewart, New York Liberty
A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces
Alyssa Thomas, Connecticut Sun
Satou Sabally, Dallas Wings
Napheesa Collier, Minnesota Lynx

Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.

Natasha Cloud knows some people haven’t yet woken up to what’s possible for the Washington Mystics this year.

“Y’all can keep sleeping (on us),” the five-foot-nine guard said after the Mystics defeated the New York Liberty, 80-64, to open the 2023 WNBA season.

“We’re confident in what we have in this locker room and you can continue to talk about the super hero teams. But we know who we are and we know what we bring every single night.”

While the New York Liberty and Las Vegas Aces made huge offseason moves, the Mystics’ path to the start of the WNBA season was more subtle. Elena Delle Donne, who has dealt with a back injury for three straight seasons, says she is as strong as she’s ever been. And she looked it on Friday night, recording 13 points, five assists, four rebounds, two steals against the Liberty. Cloud, Ariel Atkins, and Kristi Toliver also added double-digit points.

While Liberty fans might have been surprised by the result, Delle Donne wasn’t.

“It’s what we’ve been doing in training camp. And we don’t care about the outside noise,” the two-time WNBA MVP said. “We don’t care about the storylines. It’s not going to change how we show up every single day, take care of one another and get the work we need to get done each day.”

As for the New York “super hero” team?

“This was a huge lesson for us,” Liberty guard Courtney Vandersloot said.

“We can learn a lot from this,” echoed Liberty head coach Sandy Brondello. “The team with the most chemistry certainly won tonight. We were not very good, and they were very good.”

When it comes to the New York Liberty, Sabrina Ionescu is the head of the snake.

At least, that’s how Kahleah Copper describes her.

And how do you kill a snake?

You cut off its head.

Candace Parker, left, celebrates with Courtney Vandersloot during the Sky's 100-62 win. (Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

In Game 1 of the Liberty’s first-round series against the defending champion Chicago Sky, Ionescu scored 22 points and recorded six assists to lead No. 7 seed New York to an upset win.

In Game 2, the Oregon grad was held to just seven points and three assists, and No. 2 seed Chicago secured a lopsided 100-62 victory — the largest margin in WNBA playoff history — to force a deciding Game 3.

The difference largely came down to the defensive assignment. This time around, Copper matched up with Ionescu, as opposed to the first game, when Vandersloot drew Ionescu and Copper matched up with Betnijah Laney.

Copper bothered New York’s star guard from the jump.

“It was important for me to defend her,” Copper said after Saturday’s game. “I gotta be able to make it as hard as possible for her, so that’s what I wanted to do.”

Copper accomplished her mission. The game marked just the fourth time this season that Ionescu posted fewer than 10 points and fewer than five assists in the same contest.

“She’s special because she plays both ends of the floor, and I think that gets undervalued a lot,” Sky coach James Wade said of Copper, who not only played suffocating defense but also scored 20 points. “Her ability to be disruptive and then on the other hand get us buckets and actually draw defenses — it sets a tone, and the tone is really what we need.”

Chicago’s defensive intensity, sparked by Copper, represented a complete shift from Game 1. The Sky put a major emphasis on defending the 3-point line, closing out hard, putting hands up and making sure the Liberty didn’t get uncontested looks.

The Liberty score 36.5 percent of their points from the 3-point line and have made 394 on the season, ranking first in the WNBA in both categories.

In their opening game victory Wednesday, the Liberty shot 44 percent from beyond the arc, making 11 of 25 attempts. The long-range offense came from everywhere, as seven players made at least one 3-pointer. Ionescu and Stefanie Dolson led the team with three makes apiece.

In Game 2, New York went cold from long range, making just three attempts — Ionescu, Han Xu and Rebecca Allen each had one — and shooting 15 percent from beyond the arc. The Liberty’s shooting from 2-point range wasn’t much better, as they shot 33 percent, finishing with 23 total field goals.

“It was important because we know they like to shoot 3s and they are a successful team when they make them,” Wade said. “So we wanted to make sure that if they get 3s off that they are contested, and they weren’t as open as they were in the first game.”

Emma Meesseman, Candace Parker and the Chicago Sky forced a deciding Game 3 in New York on Tuesday. (Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

Natasha Howard — who scored 22 points in the first game — led the Liberty starters with eight points Saturday, while Dolson and Laney each had just one field goal for two points apiece. Crystal Dangerfield rounded out the unit’s scoring with four points.

Meanwhile, Han and Michaela Onyenwere led New York with 10 points each, and the bench unit outscored the starters, 39-23.

“We were struggling everywhere,” Liberty coach Sandy Brondello said. “We need our starters to set us off a little bit and hopefully we can build up from there.”

The sentiment that New York struggled everywhere was far from an exaggeration. The offense looked disjointed and lacked the crips passes and ball movement that led to the team’s success Wednesday.

In addition to the poor shooting, the Liberty committed 19 turnovers and only grabbed three offensive rebounds. Turnovers outnumbered 15 total assists for New York.

“A lot of it was our turnovers for easy baskets,” Brondello said. “They’re one of the best teams in the league in the open court, and Copper certainly got them going … We have to be a little more resilient, taking care of the ball. We really made a lot of bad decisions, like the quick shots. I was not happy with that.”

After the bounce-back victory, the No. 2 Sky will have to win on the road to advance to the semifinals, as Game 3 will take place Tuesday in New York.

Heading into the postseason, Wade expressed frustration with the format, saying, “You always want the deciding game, if there’s a Game 3, to be at the higher seed’s home. I’m not a fan of it at all; I don’t think any coaches are.”

But he changed his opinion Saturday.

“I’m OK with (going on the road),” he said. “Because the thing is, if we wouldn’t have lost game 1, this game wouldn’t have been on the road. You know if we play like that, it doesn’t matter where we play. We could play on the moon. But we have to be who we gonna be, and that will dictate everything.”

Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.

Sabrina Ionescu thrust her hands into the air, threw her head back and screamed. As the buzzer sounded on her team’s 98-91 upset of the defending champion Chicago Sky in Game 1 of the first round, Ionescu was flooded with emotion.

Happiness, relief, exhaustion and pride. The Liberty guard felt it all after the franchise’s first playoff win since 2015.

“We came here and did what we needed to do, and what nobody believed we could do,” she said.

The Liberty still have to win one more game to take the best-of-three series and move onto the semifinals, but the win on Wednesday proved something the Liberty have long known: It’s possible.

“I’ve been saying to this team, ‘Why not us?’ I know we had a 20 percent chance of even making it to the playoffs, and here we are,” Ionescu said. “We believe in ourselves and that’s all that matters. We are going to try and get another one.”

The win wasn’t a fluke. The Liberty know that. The Sky know, too. And they both know that New York, as the No. 7 seed, needs just one more win to advance and send last year’s title winner home.

If you don’t believe Ionescu’s sentiment of “why not” the Liberty, then allow me to present the evidence.

Stefanie Dolson had 13 points and seven rebounds in the win against her old team. (David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

Previous matchups

There’s precedent for the Liberty playing the Sky close. They matched up four times in the regular season, and aside from a lopsided 83-50 Chicago win in the second game of the season, every contest has been tight.

New York lost by two, 88-86, on June 12, when Ionescu recorded her first triple-double of the season with 27 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists.

The Liberty secured their first win over the Sky on July 23, when Ionescu completed a 3-point play with 9.7 seconds left, ending a six-game winning streak by Chicago.

And in their most recent matchup on July 29, the Sky secured an eight-point win despite the Liberty keeping it close with double-figure scoring from Ionescu, Natasha Howard, Stefanie Dolson and Marine Johannès.

Each time they’ve played the Sky, the Liberty have gained confidence. Each one of those matchups further proved the mindset that New York has what it takes to play with Chicago.

Natasha Howard has the championship experience this young Liberty team needs. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)


When you look at the Liberty’s roster makeup, it’s hard to believe this team went into the playoffs with a 16-20 record. They have one of the deepest teams in the league, with top-to-bottom talent.

That starts with Ionescu and her 17.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game, but it certainly doesn’t end there. Howard is a two-time All-Star who averages 15.1 points per game, but more importantly, she’s a veteran who’s been a part of three WNBA championship teams. She knows how to win in the postseason and demonstrated that in a big way Wednesday with 22 points, seven boards and three assists. Howard also played 34 minutes, the most after Ionescu.

Dolson, who was a part of Chicago’s championship-winning team last year, contributed 13 points and seven rebounds in Wednesday’s win. She was crucial to the Liberty’s offense, making three 3-pointers, and as a 6-foot-5 center, her shooting ability stretches the defense and creates more openings for her teammates.

But the two pieces that are the most important to New York’s potential playoff success are Betnijah Laney and Johannès.

Laney was dominant last season for New York, averaging 16.8 points per game and earning her first All-Star bid. She missed significant time this year with a knee injury that required surgery. Wednesday’s win was only her fifth game back for the Liberty, but she looked to be at the top of her game, recording 17 points, five rebounds and five assists. With 1:23 left on the clock, Laney hit a step-back jumper to give her team a five-point advantage. She then made two free throws with 38.9 seconds remaining for the 98-91 lead that ended up being the final score. Her return was crucial to the Liberty winning their last three games to even get to the playoffs, and she remains a key piece in their quest to upset the Sky.

Johannès, meanwhile, has been making a splash with her flashy style since she joined the team on June 6. But her flair shouldn’t be confused with gaudiness. The guard is creative, but everything she does has purpose. Take last night’s over-the-back pass to Howard. It drew excitement from the crowd and praise on Twitter, but that’s not why she did it. Johannès threw the ball backwards because the angle of her defender didn’t allow her to swivel for a direct pass to Howard. Johannès brings excitement to the Liberty, but more importantly, she provides a playmaking ability that complements Ionescu and creates more opportunities for New York’s offense.

(Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Last night’s run

The Sky held a 91-85 lead when Courtney Vandersloot made a layup with 3:32 left on the clock. From there, Chicago didn’t score again. The Liberty closed the game on a 13-0 run in which the Sky went 0-for-8 from the field, with multiple turnovers and head-scratching decisions.

“I think we panicked a little bit,” Azurá Stevens said. “And not forced, but maybe a little bit. We were down and we were trying to get back. I feel like we haven’t panicked all year.”

While the Sky looked nervous down the stretch, the Liberty remained stoic and chipped away at the six-point deficit before eventually taking and building the lead.

That leads back to the confidence the Liberty developed by playing the Sky close in their previous meetings. They’ve seen on three separate occasions that they can keep up with the defending champions, and on Wednesday that belief guided the Liberty to victory.

Betnijah Laney's return has given the Liberty a boost at the most important point of the season. (Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Three-point shooting

The Liberty made 11 3-pointers against the Sky on Wednesday, shooting at a 44 percent clip, with seven players knocking down at least one shot from long-range. They score 36.5 percent of their points from beyond the arc, which leads the league. That’s a defensive nightmare. When everyone can shoot 3s, it means the defense can’t ignore any one player, and the constant need to close-out to 3-point range opens lanes to the basket and entry passes to the post. Especially when some of the 3-point threats are bigs. Dolson and Han Xu force teams to defend well beyond the arc, meaning shot-blockers aren’t anywhere near the hoop.

Plus, with their ability to knock down 3s, the Liberty are always within striking distance.

New playoff format

The final piece to the puzzle is the playoff format. With last season’s layout, the Sky, as the team with the second-best record, would have received a double bye. Instead, they are playing a three-game series.

Games 1 and 2 take place in Chicago, but Game 3 will be in New York, meaning the Liberty have a shot to sweep the series on the road on Saturday. But if they lose, they then get home-court advantage for the series-deciding contest, a scenario Sky head coach James Wade decried on Tuesday.

“You go into a series, especially in this format, and you just need to steal one,” Liberty coach Sandy Brondello said.

The Liberty have done that. Now, with two chances to finish the job and advance to their first semifinal series since 2015, they need to steal just one more.

Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.

The New York Liberty have made Sandy Brondello’s hire official, announcing her as the organization’s ninth head coach on Friday.

The announcement comes a week after ESPN first reported that Brondello was expected to be fill the Liberty’s vacancy. The head coach of the Australian national team parted ways with the Phoenix Mercury in December after eight seasons.

“Sandy brings a wealth of coaching experience and is a proven winner with a championship pedigree, both as a player and coach in the WNBA and internationally,” said Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb. “Throughout her longstanding professional coaching career, she has demonstrated her ability to build consistent and sustained success as a skilled leader and mentor on and off the court. We are thrilled to welcome her to New York as we move forward in our pursuit of winning a WNBA Championship.”

Brondello led Phoenix to a 150-108 overall record and made the playoffs every season of her tenure. In 2021, the Mercury made it to the WNBA Finals before falling to the Chicago Sky in four games. With nine years of head coaching experience, Brondello ranks as the 10th-winningest head coach in WNBA history.

The Liberty have been searching for their next head coach since they parted ways with Walt Hopkins in early December. In Hopkins’ second season with the Liberty in 2021, New York went 12-20 and made the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

“It is an honor to join the historic New York Liberty franchise and to coach and lead such a talented roster of players,” Brondello said. “I owe immense gratitude to the team’s ownership and front office for entrusting me with this important role during such an integral time in the history of the organization. Alongside my family, I’m excited to move to New York City and begin preparations for our upcoming season.”

Brondello will work with one of the most exciting young rosters in the WNBA. Returning next season are 2020 No. 1 draft pick Sabrina Ionescu, 2021 WNBA Rookie of the Year Michaela Onyenwere and 2021 All-Star Betnijah Laney. Three-time WNBA champion Natasha Howard will also return for a second season in New York.