The New York Liberty knows it underachieved this season. Finishing with a 13-21 record didnt prevent the team from going out with a bang in the season finale against the playoff-bound Washington Mystics. It was indeed one for the fans on Fan Appreciation Day.
"It was our last game and we really wanted to leave a very good taste in the mouth of the fans because its been very hard for them to have that good taste this year," said All-Star forward Shameka Christon following the 86-65 victory. "It was very important (to win) because we have fans here in New York that are so passionate about the Liberty that when we lose they really have a bad week. It was for them."
Despite falling short of a playoff berth, the Liberty have been competitive all summer especially when playing in front of the hometown fans. With the support of the fans until the final buzzer of the season, New York finished with a respectable 8-9 record at Madison Square Garden. And everyone can hold their heads high heading into the long off-season.
"We wanted to give back to our fans, they were so supportive all season," reserve forward Tiffany Jackson said. "This is our way of giving back since we are not in the playoffs."
To show their appreciation even further, Christon, one of the teams three captains, took the mic and thanked the fans after the Liberty notched its final win of the season. Each of the players then presented autographed authentic WNBA basketballs to select season subscribers. Some even handed their game-worn sneakers to some lucky fans.
Some players will now take a few weeks off before heading overseas for the WNBA off-season to play in various countries around the world, while the basketball staff and front office works preparing for next season in hopes of returning to the playoffs. If the final games of the season is any indication of what to expect next season, the Liberty think its going in the right direction.
"We wanted to end on a good note. We had nothing to lose for ourselves because we have a mirror in front of our face and we know the season went the way it did because of us," Christon said. "The good thing is we came out the last few games knowing we weren't going to make the playoffs and we weren't playing too much for anything, but we played hard. Thats what we should've done from the beginning, but we didn't."
Talk about ending the season on a good note for the second consecutive game, the Liberty scored a season-high 50 second-half points against Washington. The team previously achieved that season high in Detroit three days prior.
"You always look back and wonder what if, but this is the reality of where we are now," interim head coach Anne Donovan said. "What we do looking forward is well take some lessons from this and come back stronger next year."