Dolan is look­ing to sell the Lib­erty

The Day - - SPORTS - By DOUG FEINBERG AP Bas­ket­ball Writer

New York — The New York Lib­erty are for sale.

One of the WNBA's orig­i­nal fran­chises, the Lib­erty have been owned by James Dolan and Madison Square Gar­den since the league was founded in 1996 and started play the next year.

"We have been a strong and vo­cal ad­vo­cate for the Lib­erty and the WNBA since the be­gin­ning," Dolan, ex­ec­u­tive chair­man and CEO of the Gar­den, said in a state­ment Tues­day. "As the last orig­i­nal owner, I am proud of how far the league has come, and the role we have played in its growth.

This is the sec­ond WNBA fran­chise to put up for sale in the past few months. San An­to­nio was bought by MGM Re­sorts In­ter­na­tional and the team was moved to Las Ve­gas.

That fran­chise will be­gin play next sea­son and is coached by Bill Laim­beer, who left the Lib­erty last month. New York pro­moted as­sis­tant coach Katie Smith to the head job.

While all of the eight orig­i­nal WNBA fran­chises were owned and af­fil­i­ated with NBA teams, only three of the 12 teams now have NBA part­ners — In­di­ana, Phoenix and Min­nesota.

"The Lib­erty is a WNBA orig­i­nal with a his­tory of great play­ers and fans," WNBA Pres­i­dent Lisa Bor­ders said. "We thank MSG for its 21 sea­sons sup­port­ing the growth of women's bas­ket­ball and ap­pre­ci­ate its ded­i­ca­tion to find a new own­er­ship group to build on the team's suc­cesses for many sea­sons to come."

New York has reached the play­offs in 15 of its 21 sea­sons but has never won the ti­tle. It has had the best record in the East­ern Con­fer­ence the past three sea­sons. Led by Tina Charles, the Lib­erty were 22-12 this past year and were elim­i­nated in the sec­ond round of the play­offs.

The team was fourth in at­ten­dance this sea­son, av­er­ag­ing 9,889 fans, with at­ten­dance grow­ing 8 per­cent over the last three sea­sons un­der team pres­i­dent Isiah Thomas.

"This was a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion for us, which we made af­ter care­fully as­sess­ing the needs of our busi­ness," Dolan said. "We are con­fi­dent that new own­er­ship can build on the foun­da­tion we es­tab­lished over these last 21 years, and stew­ard this in­cred­i­ble fran­chise into an even more suc­cess­ful fu­ture."

Dolan's group also owns the New York Knicks and New York Rangers. Thomas is a for­mer Knicks pres­i­dent and coach and his move to the WNBA came against a con­tentious back­drop of his time with the NBA club.

Ten years ago, while the Knicks coach, a jury ruled Thomas sex­u­ally ha­rassed a for­mer team ex­ec­u­tive, and the Gar­den im­prop­erly fired her. A court or­dered the Knicks and Dolan to pay $11.6 mil­lion, with the set­tle­ment at $11.5 mil­lion. In 2015, the WNBA and Lib­erty sus­pended Thomas' bid for par­tial own­er­ship of the Lib­erty.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.