There’s something that feels right about seeing full houses for Liberty games once again

Photo Credit: Lamar Carter

The feeling one gets when one attends a New York Liberty game at Barclays Center has to be very familiar to the vibe one got when one attended a Liberty contest during the Madison Square Garden days. 

It was during those days that MSG had a more electric atmosphere for Liberty contests than for New York Knicks games. Why is that? Because the Liberty were winning while the Knicks stayed on the struggle bus (or should we say struggle train?). 

History appeared to have repeated itself once again. In 2024, the atmosphere at Barclays Center appears to be “meh” for Brooklyn Nets games since the Big Three that never was (Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, James Harden) all bolted Gotham for Phoenix, Dallas and Philadelphia, respectively. 

The atmosphere for Liberty games? 

Incredible. The intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush not only looks to have the best entertainment value one could get at a WNBA game, the Liberty Loyals have turned Barclays Center into, arguably, the most formidable home court advantage in the entire WNBA. 

As of this writing, New York is 6-1 at home with the only defeat coming in an unceremonious contest vs. the Chicago Sky. One had to know the Sky would get up for that game – after all Chicago is coached by a Liberty legend in Teresa Weatherspoon. 

Also – the upcoming Commissioner’s Cup final between the Liberty and Minnesota Lynx will also be in New York. Where is yet to be determined since Barclays Center is slated to host the NBA Draft the following day. 

Regardless of where it is, seafoam, black and copper nation will show up in full effect. 

When one sees attendance figures from Liberty games nowadays and sees that New York is drawing over 12,000 fans to Barclays Center, it draws memories of when the team would regularly average 12,000 fans per game at Madison Square Garden. Also – the Liberty are drawing high attendance numbers even without the Caitlin Clark (Indiana Fever) effect. 

It took a bit for New York to get back to this point, but this is certainly a high watermark for the WNBA’s flagship franchise that may be closer than ever to its first-ever championship. 

One cannot help but think about these full crowds at Barclays Center without thinking about what the franchise went through from 2018-2022. Liberty backers would rather not think about the dark days playing at the Westchester County Center – but those two years of 2018 and 2019 did indeed occur. 

And while a number of dedicated Liberty Loyals did get on the Metro-North Railroad’s Harlem line to White Plains for those two years to support their team, it was not the same as being in the arena the team has called home for virtually its entire existence. 

Something else has also helped in restoring the upbeat vibes to Liberty games…

Winning basketball. 

During the first two years of the Liberty being at Barclays Center, the team and franchise was slowly, but surely coming out of its rebuild. New York made the playoffs both in 2021 and 2022 but were eliminated in the first round both years. 

After those two seasons, the Liberty front office decided to go for it by adding Breanna Stewart, Jonquel Jones and Courtney Vandersloot to a core that already included Betnijah Laney and Sabrina Ionescu. As New York began winning more and more, a buzz began building around the Tri-State area that the team was winning at a similar pace as was present during the days of James Dolan. 

For both Finals games that were at Barclays Center, over 17,000 fans packed The Clays. Those 17,000 after Game 4 may have been heading home on one of the many subways that connect to Barclays Center with long faces, but it was an indication that the Liberty had turned a corner. 

And this year, so far, is a continuation of what we saw in 2023. Those Liberty fans that felt abandoned by the Westchester move have returned. In addition, a whole host of new fans have become part of seafoam, black and copper culture. Barclays Center is the place to be if one is a New Yorker and there is a great chance this could be the season where the patience of Liberty Loyals is finally rewarded with a championship and a parade down the Canyon of Heroes in Lower Manhattan. 

Oh – and we must also remember the real Liberty MVP.