I have discovered the cure for homesickness: watch the New York Liberty live at Madison Square Garden come back from nowhere to beat the Detroit Shock (last year’s WNBA champions) and win the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Apologies to my Texas relatives, but: we BLOODY won!!!!!
I cannot tell you how badly we played in the first half. We sucked. Almost none of our shots went in, we developed a deep seated fear of going into the paint. We were beyond timid and into cowardly in defence. Nobody was hot, nobody was defending well, or making shots. They out scored us, out rebounded us, out pretty much everythinged us and the only reason they were only 13 up at the end of the half was because they also turned over the ball way more than we did. That first half was truly horrible.
And for most of the second half things weren’t looking that great. We were better than the first half, but we were still missing shots, our defence was still wobbly, but Detroit started to crumble—by the last five minutes they could not bribe their way into making free throws. Our field goal percentage started to inch its way up from an abysmal sub thirty per cent. We started to look decent, Crystal Robinson and Becky Hammon started making shots when we really, really needed them, helping to claw our way within four points of Detroit. And then in the last few minutes tie it, and then lead. And then it was tied again . . .
The final miracle, Bethany Donaphin, who had buggered up a whole series of plays for most of the game and missed ridiculously easy shots made a turnaround jumper in the last 0.5 seconds to put us two points ahead. Unbelieveable. We won!!!
Here’s what really made the difference: we, the crowd, screamed ourselves hoarse. I’ve never ever seen us go nuts like that. Everyone was leaping up, yelling, applauding, screaming, singing, stamping our feet. It was unbelievable. My ears are still ringing, my hands hurt and my heart is beating way too fast. If it hadn’t been a home game the Liberty would’ve lost, for definite. But it was and we didn’t.
We were home in time to watch the end of the LA Sparks v Sacramento Monarchs game. The Monarchs slaughtered them and are now through to the Western Conference Finals against my favourite West Coast team, the Seattle Storm, starring the divine Lauren Jackson. I am not fond of LA, not as an idea, not as a place, and definitely not as a women’s basketball team. Seeing Sacramento beat LA made a perfect night even perfecter. Here’s to a WNBA final between Seattle and New York.
Right now, I’m not feeling homesick at all, me.
New York City, 29 September 2004