There was a winner and a loser when the New York Liberty and Minnesota Lynx met Sunday at Madison Square Garden, but the prevailing message before, during and after their WNBA game was one of equality.
The Liberty partnered with the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) for the first Unity Game, which included a pregame panel discussion featuring athletes, community activists and law enforcement officials, and a postgame scrimmage between officers from the 10th precinct and children from Covenant House, which serves homeless youth.
Liberty President Isiah Thomas said the idea for a Unity Game, announced on Aug. 7, was “borne out of a desire to have continued dialogue, work towards developing solutions to extremely complex issues, and strive to bring our communities closer together.”
Prior to tip-off, a video promoting togetherness, equality and unity played on the Madison Square Garden scoreboard, and Liberty center Kia Vaughn delivered a message to the crowd.
“Hi all, I got a little emotional watching the video,” said Vaughn, who finished with five points and four rebounds in the Liberty’s 70-61 win. “But with all that’s going on in this world today, no matter what, what we’re representing today is unity and equality. 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.”
Players from both teams, children from Covenant House and New York police officers locked arms and formed a circle around the perimeter of the court during the national anthem.