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Liberty set to pay tribute to original team after 20 years

New York Liberty Director of Player Development Teresa

New York Liberty Director of Player Development Teresa Weatherspoon takes questions during New York Liberty Media Day at the team's training facility, Thursday, May. 21, 2015, in Tarrytown, N.Y. Credit: Jason DeCrow Photo Credit: Jason DeCrow

It’s been two decades since Teresa Weatherspoon and Sue Wicks first took the court together, and since Kym Hampton and Rebecca Lobo helped introduce the world to the WNBA, but on Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden, it’ll be as if no time passed at all.

Eleven of the 12 members of the original Liberty will descend on the Garden to pay tribute to the 20th anniversary of the founding of the league in April 1996. There will be a ceremony before the 3 p.m. tipoff and festivities throughout the day.

Weatherspoon said it should be an emotional day for Liberty members old and new, as well as their loyal fans.

“I’m losing it right now,” she said, getting emotional in an interview with MSG Network. “So I don’t even know if I can make it until [Sunday] . . . Now we can actually look at it and see what they’re doing when we started this league. [Sunday] is going to be exciting.”

The Liberty and the Phoenix Mercury, Sunday’s opponent, are two of only three teams that have remained in their original cities. The Los Angeles Sparks are the third. The game will be a rematch of the first WNBA game played at the Garden, on June 29, 1997.

President Isiah Thomas called it an “exciting evening” in a statement, calling the 1997 team “pioneers that paved the way for professional women’s basketball.”

When told of the pioneer moniker, Weatherspoon said, “If that’s what they call us, that’s what we’ll be.

“That’s the beautiful part of it for all of us, to see the growth, to see the excitement, just the desire to be excellent, the desire for greatness in these young ladies,” she said. “We share those deep emotions.”

New York Sports