NEW YORK (AP) Epiphanny Prince is coming home.
The New York Liberty acquired Prince from the Chicago Sky for Cappie Pondexter in a blockbuster trade Monday. Prince was born and raised in New York City and is thrilled for the chance to play at Madison Square Garden.
''It means a lot to me,'' Prince told The Associated Press in a phone interview. ''To come home to play in front of my family and friends is huge. Growing up I was a huge Knicks fan. Now I'm going to go to the Garden to go to work.''
It's the second straight year that the Liberty have pulled off a major trade. New York acquired All-Star center Tina Charles on draft day last season.
''I'm super excited to play with Tina,'' Prince said. ''She's one of the best posts in the game and one of my close friends off the court.''
Prince averaged 15 points for the Sky last season in helping Chicago reach the WNBA Finals for the first time in franchise history under owner Michael Alter and coach/general manager Pokey Chatman.
''It's bittersweet. I'm grateful for everything that organization has done for me,'' Prince said. ''Pokey and Michael care about me as a person and wanted to do the best thing that's good for me.''
Prince sat out the first part of last season because she was burned out from playing year round. She spends eight months playing in Russia. So being home in New York was big.
''That's one of the biggest things that I'm happy about this situation because I get to be home for the summer,'' Prince said. ''To be able to play in front of my family and friends is a great opportunity.''
Prince isn't the only one going home. Pondexter, who averaged a career-low 13.2 points last season, was raised in Chicago. The 32-year-old guard came to the Liberty in a trade in 2010.
''Being able to play for a team and coach with an opportunity to win a championship is exciting,'' Pondexter said. ''And coming home to do it is the best part!''
Pondexter won WNBA titles in 2007 and '09 with the Phoenix Mercury, earning finals MVP honors in '07. She's a five-time WNBA All-Star.
''I am thrilled to have one of the league's most fierce competitors join our team,'' Chatman said. ''Cappie's ability in the open court, half court, as well as on the defensive end of the floor, make us a better team. She's an All-Star, a WNBA champion and, simply put, a winner with a hunger for greatness that can galvanize a team in its pursuit of a championship.''
New York has missed the playoffs the past two seasons. Along with the trade, the Liberty also signed free agents Tanisha Wright, Carolyn Swords and Rebecca Allen.
''I think it's fair to say that in recent years the New York Liberty haven't played with the identity that we would like,'' said Kristin Bernert, the Liberty's senior vice president of business and basketball operations. ''The moves we've made this offseason are about creating the culture we think we need to be successful and to properly represent our fans and New York City.''
Now Prince gets the chance to lead the Liberty back to the playoffs and potentially win their first title.
''That would be the best feeling ever,'' she said. ''To come home and help my hometown get its first WNBA championship - that would be really special.''
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