Breanna Stewart and NY Liberty fans
December 2, 2023: New York Liberty forward Breanna Stewart and fans pose at Sadie Nash x Ticketmaster x Puma event at Barclays Center. Image via the NY Liberty

The Liberty Were A Hit In 2023, With More To Come

The Liberty have a lot to be thankful as 2023 has come to a close. It was a banner year for the franchise on the court, off the court and at the box office.

Shop for WNBA gear at WNBAStore

The One

2023 was a transformational one for Sabrina Ionescu. On the court, Sab had another All-Star, All-WNBA season as she and the Liberty made it to the WNBA Finals for the first time in two decades. Along the way, she set the single-season record for three-pointers and lit the nets on fire with a breathtaking performance at All-Star Weekend

Off the court, Ionescu made some more history. She made the cover of this year’s NBA 2K24 WNBA Edition. In September, Sab also launched her own sneaker and apparel line with Nike. The shoes have been a hit with fans and athletes across professional sports.

In a guest essay for Boardroom, Ionescu reflected on her signature shoe and the future at large.

“But really, I think signature shoes like this can help continue to push the game forward, for all.

I’m already seeing what it can mean for the young girl who is growing up and can see that there is representation. They can know their dreams are possible because of that. Being able to show that, and create that dream and desire in everyone who is able to hear my story, has become one of my biggest drivers.

Ionescu is the 12th WNBA player to have a signature line. The market is certainly there for more women’s athletes to have signature shoes and apparel. The players have been able to build relationships with fans dating back to their college days and those fans have stayed with them on their professional journeys. Previously, Didi Richards mentioned the WNBA has gotten better at promoting its players, but still has room to improve. One of Ionescu’s teammates has been leading the charge on that front.

Stew York City

New York Liberty MVP, Breanna Stewart, in a PUMA fashion shoot. Image via the New York Liberty.

Breanna Stewart showed out during her homecoming season in New York. She won her second MVP award, was first-team All-WNBA, first-team All-Defense and helped the Liberty to their best season in team history.

Although the playoffs did not go as well as Stewart hoped, she still had big moments and games throughout the season. All things considered, year one was a success for Stewart, both on and off the court.

In late November, Stewart joined the Liberty and the Campaign Against Hunger to hand out food for the Thanksgiving holiday. December was even busier for Stewart as she joined the Liberty at a coat drive with the Bowery Mission. Those events were part of the Liberty’s Season of Giving campaign, and Stewart discussed the importance of being a part of it.

“To be a part of the Liberty’s Season of Giving program was super impactful for me and Marta. The community has really shown up for us on the court, and I want to return the favor off the court…

I think between the Turkey Drive [at The Campaign Against Hunger] and the Coat Drive at The Bowery Mission, [it’s important to] continue to build relationships to be able to do these events more often so it’s not just during the holidays, but hopefully many more to come, and making sure that the focus is always on the community and those in need.”

Building community is essential to the Liberty’s mission. After a few years in Westchester, the team is back in Brooklyn and has been active all over the city. The team makes investing and supporting New York a priority and does so in a variety of ways. The Liberty’s presence and work in the community allows them to stay involved even when the WNBA is in the offseason.

Back on the court and with the help of Arielle Chambers, Stewart helped unveil the 2024 Liberty schedule, with a twist!

2024 promises to be another action-packed season for the Liberty, but let’s take one last look back at 2023.

Reflecting and Looking Ahead

On Jan. 31, the WNBPA, PUMA and Malka Media Group will release ‘Shattered Glass: A WNBPA Story‘ on Tubi, which tells the stories of Stewart, Jonquel Jones and Nneka Ogwumike. Stewie recently shared the trailer for the documentary.

Stewart also made some news. In the trailer, she expressed her desire to opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Even though it has plenty of good items in it, one big point of contention is the prioritization rule.

The rule states that players have to be at training camp on time or they cannot play at all during the season. There are exceptions, but it becomes complicated. Marine Johannes likely won’t be in New York in 2024 as a result. Now that the rule has been fully enacted, the WNBA as fans know it may never be the same again.

The WNBA is expanding its global outreach, and there will be plenty of bumps on the road as it gets there. The game is growing and players are working more than ever to make the WNBA the place to be. As they do that, the league has to make sure players feel comfortable and safe on the job. If it can solve some of the issues affecting the league currently, that will allow the league to retain talent and climb higher heights. That said, things are moving well in that direction.

Liberty Light Up the Box Office

Earlier this month, StubHub released its annual end-of-year report. In the report, it stated that WNBA attendance rose 16% and viewership jumped 21% year over year.

As we’ve documented at The Local W, the Liberty were big winners at the box office in 2023. The team played an exciting, fun brand of basketball that had Barclays Center rocking. When the game is accessible and available to the fans, everyone wins, as Las Vegas Aces star A’ja Wilson told The Local W in August.

I’ve always said, ‘If you can see her, you can be her,’ and you can’t see us if we’re through all these different kind of channels because we’re human and we like things like *that.*

With 2024 officially here, making sure the WNBA is available and at the top of everyone’s mind will be critical. The players have been hits on the court, in the community, in the box office and in the sneaker stores. The game is growing and players are increasingly becoming household names. 2023 showed that the Liberty and WNBA are ready to take another step forward, with more in store for 2024.