Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Will New York’s Other Lady Liberty Stay in the Harbor?

By Andy Lipton

 WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -  Linda Galbraith certainly hopes so.

 Sports matters to many people and for many different reasons.  

 And when a team or player leaves a city, the disappointment can be palpable.

 Consider the loss of two beloved baseball teams, the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants to California back in the 1950s. The move of the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore in 1995.

 LeBron James’ talents leaving Cleveland in 2010. And more recently, long time New York Islander star John Tavares using his free agency to go to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

 The New York Liberty, New York’s women’s professional basketball team in the WNBA since the formation of the league in 1997 is up for sale. It’s been reported that the Liberty’s owner James Dolan is not making a profit.

 There is a risk that a new owner could move the team out of the New York City area.

 You will not find a more dedicated, passionate and faithful Liberty and basketball fan than Linda Galbraith. A lovely person, Linda is a retired schoolteacher, many years of which she taught special education. A life-long New Yorker.  

 Galbraith has been a season ticket owner since Day 1 in 1997 when the Liberty was born. She can probably count on her hands the number of games she has missed in the team’s 22 summers, including this one.

 Linda says there are many passionate and long-time Liberty fans.  

 Despite the Liberty’s 5-14 record two games after its mid-season loss here against Seattle last week, Linda Galbraith is not giving up on the team.

She has lived in Bay Ridge, in Brooklyn, for many years and has never stopped making the trek to Liberty games even if meant schlepping to the Prudential Center in Newark for three seasons when Madison Square Garden was undergoing renovations a number of years ago and now having on average an hour and 45 minute drive to the Westchester County Center in White Plains where the Liberty are playing this season.  

 Linda grew up in Queens in the 1950s and ‘60s and played basketball at Fordham University in the later half of 1960s. It was a time when not many girls and women played basketball, when many high schools and colleges had no women’s varsity basketball teams, and when the rules for women’s basketball were significantly different than the men’s rules.  

 During the 1960s the rules were starting to gradually change to get the game closer to the men’s game, but when Linda entered Fordham in 1965, the women’s game was 6 on 6 with the players movements limited to one side of the court, with exception of one player from each team - called rovers - who could play the whole court.

 Linda’s first year at Fordham was the first year that The Rams had a women’s varsity basketball team, one with a nine-game schedule.

 Linda has seen the growth in the participation of women in the game of basketball in high schools and colleges, nationally and in New York. It started in the early 1970s with the formation of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) and the passage of the Title IX legislation. The creation of the WNBA helped continue that growth.  

And despite the important gender inequality issues that still exist in women’s athletics, Linda Galbraith truly appreciates having a professional women’s basketball team in New York that she can root for and watch play. She remembers a time when that did not exist.

 Linda suggests that a good New York venue for the Liberty would be St. John’s Lou Carnesecca Arena, located on campus in the center of Queens. It is centrally located in New York City and next to Long Island. 

 It has ample on and off-campus parking, accessible by a number of public transportation lines, and a homey arena that holds 5,600 seats. Its operating costs have to be significantly lower than the other New York City area major arenas, Madison Square Garden, Barclays Arena, Nassau Coliseum, and Prudential Center.

 Perhaps in one final act of supporting women’s basketball, owner James Dolan might consider selling the Liberty at a low price to someone who agrees to keep the team in the New York City area.

 Individual or institutional investors who need to fulfill a mandate that allocates a portion of their portfolios to socially conscious investments might be interested.

 Maybe that old New York Knick player, somewhat of a hippie in his playing days during the Knicks’ glory years and in recent times known as a Zen Master, Phil Jackson, might be interested in investing some of his hefty salary he received as a recent past president of the  Knicks.

 Phil, if you are listening, Linda is a contemporary of yours. A one-time player and a forever fan of the game of basketball. (Linda’s also a long time Knicks fan.)

 Let’s listen to Linda on why she is a Liberty fan.



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