NY Liberty fans celebrate Brittney Griner at Barclays Center
June 18, 2023; New York, NY, USA; The New York Liberty host the Phoenix's Mercury. Photo Credit: Sophia Scheller - The Local W

Liberty Promote Bring Our Families Home Campaign, Show Importance of Community

Community building is key to what the New York Liberty do on and off the court, and they showed that as they hosted the Phoenix Mercury at Barclays Center on Sunday afternoon.

The Mercury were shorthanded as Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi both sat out due to injury. The Liberty used a total team effort to walk away with a wire-to-wire victory in front of a sold-out Barclays Center crowd. While the team excelled on the court, what happened on the main concourse of the Barclays Center was just as important.

In February 2022, BG was wrongfully detained in Russia. During her detainment, the outpouring of support was felt from Phoenix and all over the world. WNBA players kept BG in their thoughts and in the front of our minds throughout the year. The Bring Our Families Home (BOFH) campaign has played a big part as well.

Founded in 2022, the BOFH campaign is composed of families advocating for the safe and immediate return of Americans unjustly detained overseas. The campaign has pushed to meet with President Joe Biden to encourage him to do more to get their family members home. Last summer, BOFC unveiled a mural in the Georgetown area of Washington, D.C. Sandy Brondello and members of the Liberty visited the mural when they were in D.C. last year.

The support for the Bring Our Families Home campaign continued on Sunday at the Barclays Center.

Stand up and speak out

June 18, 2023; New York, NY, USA; The New York Liberty host the Phoenix’s Mercury. Mandatory Credit: Sophia Scheller – The Local W

Before the game, we had the pleasure of speaking to Jake Wolf and Thomas Feigin, who were working at the letter-writing station on the Barclays Center concourse. Wolf discussed the importance of uplifting the voices and stories of the people detained.

“I think that they definitely need to be amplified,” Wolf said. “And it’s really jarring when you see the numbers and even more so when you hear their stories and you can actually put a face to the name and you understand how difficult it must be, to be in their shoes. I think it’s important to not let up and to continue to push their message and make sure that they do get home.”

After the game, Breanna Stewart spoke about the letter-writing campaign and the importance of staying engaged on social issues.

“I think it’s very important to stay involved and engaged in these issues, especially in the WNBA where we’re always on the forefront of social injustices and continuing to use our platforms,” Stewart said. “So, for the ability to have a letter-writing stand as a part of the Bring Our Families Home campaign is creating awareness. Yeah, you’re here to watch a great basketball game, but let’s also do more. And let’s do something that isn’t difficult in writing a letter to someone who is wrongfully detained overseas.”

Neda Sharghi, the chair of BOFH and sister of Emad Sharghi, reflected on Stewart’s statement.

Neda works with BG and the Mercury to promote awareness of this issue.

Community matters

Liberty enter Jonquel Jones at the National Girls & Women in Sports Day clinic
February 1, 2023: Liberty center Jonquel Jones with students at the National Girls and Women in Sports Day clinic. Photo taken by Joe from @TheLocalW

Liberty guard/forward Jocelyn Willoughby discussed athletes using their platforms.

“I think as athletes we have an opportunity, some people would say responsibility, but I think it’s a great opportunity that we can take advantage of to highlight certain causes that are important to us, that are close to us,” Willoughby said.

The Liberty organization emphasizes advocacy and community and makes a concerted effort to be in and of the New York City community. Speaking out, devoting time and resources to important causes, and showing up for others matters to the Liberty. As a league, the WNBA has shown up to help others. Whether it is locally or in the halls of the United States Senate, the W is present and ready to speak up for those who need it. Partnering with the vital, life-saving work of the Bring Our Families Home campaign continues the long tradition of this powerful league.

To borrow from Arielle Chambers, the WNBA is so important. The New York Liberty prove it with their actions.