‘MVP!, MVP!’ Stewart wins AP honor

Earns third player of the year in first season with Liberty

September 13, 2023 John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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The “MVP!, MVP!” chants echoing throughout Downtown’s Barclays Center Friday night for Game 1 of the New York Liberty’s best-of-3 first-round playoff series against the Washington Mystics will be legitimate.

Breanna Stewart was named the 2023 AP Player of the Year Tuesday for the second straight year and a record third time overall, narrowly edging last season’s WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces by one vote.

Stewart, who arrived here via free agency during New York’s impressive offseason haul, which included 2021 WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones and future Hall of Fame point guard Courtney Vandersloot, will find out if she receives the WNBA MVP on Sept. 26.

The 6-foot-4 Cicero, N.Y., native, who grabbed the league award as a member of the Seattle Storm in 2018, has exceeded even her own high expectations in her first season with the Liberty, who set a franchise record for wins this year.

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“To be honored as the AP Player of the Year is an incredible honor,” said Stewart. “It’s quite different after switching teams and coming to New York and having such a positive season going 32-8.”

Stewart finished second in the league with a team-high and career-best 23.0 points per game.

The two-time WNBA Finals MVP also became the first player in league history to record four 40-point games in a single campaign, tying the career mark in the process.

“We’re at a special place in women’s basketball when there are so many great players doing so many great things every single night,” noted Stewart, who has insisted all year that winning the Liberty’s first-ever WNBA title is her ultimate goal.

“It’s been a lot of amazing basketball going on this year and makes you feel good going into the playoffs,” she added.

Stewart was also named All-AP First Team for the sixth time in her seven-year career.

Head coach Sandy Brondello hopes Breanna Stewart will flash her MVP form Friday night at Downtown’s Barclays Center. Photo by Brandon Todd/New York Liberty

 

Liberty All-Star guard Sabrina Ionescu was selected to the All-AP Second Team for the second consecutive year after averaging 17.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game.

The former two-time Wooden Award winner as the best women’s player in the nation at the University of Oregon established new standards in long-range shooting in 2023.

She finished with a league-record 44.8 percentage from beyond the arc and drained 128 3s overall, breaking Diana Taurasi’s record in that category.

Stewart and Ionescu are busy preparing for Friday night’s playoff opener against the Mystics, who ended New York’s season-high eight-game winning streak here Sunday.

Game 2 will also be in Brooklyn on Tuesday night. Tip-off for Game 1 is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN2.

Game 3, if necessary, will be in our nation’s capital on Sept. 22.

Liberty All-Star guard Sabrina Ionescu was named an AP All-Second Team selecton Tuesday. Photo by Brandon Todd/New York Liberty

GIVE ME LIBERTY: Stewart won three WNBA Player of the Month awards this year and six Player of the Week honors. “To me she’s the MVP,” Liberty coach Sandy Brondello said of Stewart, who also set the league’s all-time single-season scoring record this year. … The Liberty won the opener of their best-of-3 playoff series in Chicago last year only to lose the final two contests. They are 1-3 overall in the postseason since relocating to Brooklyn in 2021. … New York went 15-5 at Barclays Center this year and 17-3 on the road. … The Liberty have not won a home playoff game since 2015 vs. Indiana.


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