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T-Spoon at home in Ring of Honor

With the pregame crowd already buzzing because of a certain soccer game taking place in Germany, the Prudential Center erupted when Liberty great Teresa Weatherspoon strolled to her front row seat. It was, after all, Weatherspoon’s day in New York.

The Liberty welcomed the beloved point guard into their hall of fame, inducting T-Spoon into the organization’s Ring of Honor. Induction ceremonies took place during halftime of the Libs’ 88-57 win over Tulsa Sunday afternoon.

“This is a tremendous honor for me. I want you all to understand that I never played this game for any type of individual accolade,” an emotional Weatherspoon said. “I played because I loved it. It was my passion, it was my gift.”

T-Spoon is the second member of the Liberty’s Ring of Honor, joining former teammate Vickie Johnson, who was inducted earlier this month. Three more Liberty greats will be enshrined later this season: Sue Wicks and Kym Hampton will have their days, and a fifth former member will be voted in by fan ballot.

Weatherspoon played with the Liberty from 1997 to 2003, bringing a fiery and aggressive game to the court that immediately made her a fan favorite. It didn’t hurt that her on- and off-the-court leadership made New York an instant winner. The Libs advanced to the WNBA Finals in four of Weatherspoon’s seven seasons with the club.

For her career, Weatherspoon is the Liberty’s all-time leader in assists (1,306) and steals (453). She ranks third in franchise history in games played (220), second in total minutes (6,842) and ninth in points scored (1,247).

“I’ve been watching the Liberty since ’97, and Teresa has been my favorite player ever since. She’s done so much to not only put the Liberty on the map, but also to bring this league to the forefront,” said Ana Robles, 43, who made the trip to Newark from her Bronx home just to watch the ceremonies.

“T-Spoon has meant so much to the sport of women’s basketball. So many girls have been inspired to play because they were inspired by her style. They were inspired by her heart,” Bronx resident Juana Lopez, 46, said.

It’s amazing to see and hear how much Weatherspoon has impacted the fans. Amid the Cappie Pondexter and Leilani Mitchell T-shirts and jerseys in the crowd, T-Spoon’s No. 11 still ranks as one of the most commonly found digits in Libertyland. I counted more than a dozen “Weatherspoon” tees in the stands, many of them in the familiar seafoam green. Albeit faded, the name is still as bold as ever.

If there was one drawback to Sunday’s Ring of Honor celebration, it’s that it didn’t take place in Madison Square Garden. MSG’s Tina Cervasio did a nice job as the even emcee, and a flower presentation by a life-long Liberty season ticket subscriber was heart-warming, but the Prudential Center wasn’t Weatherspoon’s home. Though the T-Spoon’s fans and the followers of the modern-day Liberty embrace her, the Garden would’ve been the perfect backdrop for honoring one of the game’s best.

New York always remembers its champions, those with and without trophies, and it pays homage to those who have meant the most to an organization. Weatherspoon’s relationship with the Liberty might be one of this sport’s and New York’s tightest bonds.

“Never once as a little kid… did I dream of playing in front of fans like you. I thank the Liberty for allowing me to be a part of a wonderful organization,” T-Spoon said.

“I’m forever a Liberty; forever a New Yorker.”

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