Liberty RISE for the win, on and off the court
by Bryan Fonseca
Aug 22, 2017 | 970 views | 0 0 comments | 110 110 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For the third consecutive season, the New York Liberty have earned a spot in the WNBA playoffs. But the game was far from the most important occurrence on August 20.

Currently, the New York-based squad stand with a 17-12 record, and are on a five-game winning streak after taking down the now 22-6 Minnesota Lynx, who have won three WNBA titles since 2011, and have also appeared in the finals five times during that same span.

The actual game, however, just so happened to be the WNBA’s first-ever Unity Game, which featured a pre-game panel discussion, a display of unity between the two teams, and other events throughout Madison Square Garden.

To make the landmark day a reality, the Liberty partnered with Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE).

“I thought it was great, just the way the organization was able to bring everybody together just to watch the sport,” said Liberty All-Star guard Sugar Rodgers in regards to Unity Day. “I wish we can do that as a nation, just for everyone to get together. I am glad that we did it and that we all locked arms and showed that we can all come together.”

Before the game, The Garden ran a video further promoting harmony and equality. Following the package, Liberty center Kia Vaughn took center court, mic in hand, and conveyed a heartfelt message.

“With all that’s going on in this world today, no matter what, what we’re representing today is unity and equality,” she said. “At the end of the day, I just want to send one message out: Let love win, just let it win. Enjoy the game, thank you for coming out.”

During the pre-game performance of the National Anthem, players on each team locked arms in a show of solidarity and unity, a demonstration that has grown popular throughout the United States ever since NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick made waves last season by kneeling for the anthem in an effort to raise awareness for police brutality.

To further push the display of togetherness, the first 5,000 fans in attendance received a co-branded Liberty and RISE bracelet.

“I think it speaks volumes,” said Charles, the undeniable team leader who finished with 19 points and nine rebounds. “Not a lot of franchises or organizations are trying to take advantage of opportunities to show that after we take off these uniforms, we are individuals just like you all.

“We are affected just like how everyone else is affected by the news and what we see,” she added. “The fact that the organization has allowed us to speak up and use our platform, it means the world to us.”
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