June 26, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) Teresa Weatherspoon, Rebecca Lobo and the rest of the inaugural New York Liberty team were back in Madison Square Garden again.

The 1997 team was honored before the Liberty played the Phoenix Mercury on Sunday. The players were introduced using their original video introductions, much to the delight of the crowd that included the first WNBA President Val Ackerman. The Liberty fans gave a long ovation to former players.

''That was the best when we were stepping out of Times Square billboards,'' said Lobo, who watched the game behind the Liberty bench with her family.

''When I came into the Garden today there were a bunch of season ticket holders who were here when I played and they are still die-hard fans. Whenever I come here it feels like home.''

The pregame festivities capped off a weekend long reunion for the squad.

On Saturday night, the current squad had a dinner with the 1997 team. Weatherspoon served as the MC of the dinner. The former Liberty star, who was honored earlier this week as one of the WNBA's Top 20 players, has served as a bridge between the franchise's start to its current team.

She hit the biggest shot in the Liberty's history when her half-courter sent the 1999 WNBA Finals to a decisive third game. She's now the team's director of player development.

Weatherspoon introduced everyone in the room at the dinner doing spot-on impressions of each member of both teams that drew laughter from the assembled group.

''That was such a great night,'' Weatherspoon said. ''When you talk about getting back together with the young ladies you had the opportunity to play with that's something really special. We came together as a family again.''

New York is the lone inaugural team still playing that has not won a WNBA championship. They made it to the finals four times in the league's first six seasons. They haven't been back since, losing in the Eastern Conference finals last season.

Weatherspoon expects that to change soon.

''Once you get a taste of it you're so hungry for it,'' Weatherspoon said. ''Unfortunately we didn't get over the hump. This group has such an amazing opportunity to get it done for this franchise and for all of us that didn't get over that hump.

''There's a responsibility on their shoulders and they carry it well. We definitely see this team having an opportunity and they work hard every single day knowing that they can take advantage of the opportunity.''

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