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The Liberty’s Fifth Ring Needs Your Vote

Vickie Johnson and Teresa Weatherspoon are in. Sue Wicks will have her day next week, and Kym Hampton’s coronation is already planned for next month. Now,New Yorkis asking the fans to decide who the fifth member of theLiberty’s inaugural Ring of Honor class should be.

Online voting ends later today as all-time greats Rebecca Lobo, Tari Phillips, Crystal Robinson, Tamika Whitmore and Sophia Witherspoon vie for the fifth and final spot in the organization’s player hall of fame. While each of the five players on the final ballot are deserving of the honor, only one will be selected.

Rebecca Lobo (1997-2001), #50. The case for Lobo: The launch of the WNBA seemed to coincide perfectly with Lobo’s graduation from theUniversityofConnecticut, as if women’s basketball fans wanted more opportunity’s to see her play. One of the two original members of the Liberty franchise (T-Spoon is the other), the oft-injured Lobo played in 75 games for New York, averaging 9.5 points (good for 11th best in team history) and the sixth most total blocked shots. She also owns a 12.5 playoff scoring average.

Tari Phillips (2000-2004), #24. The case for Phillips: Phillips played in 141 games for theLibertyand ranks fifth in franchise history in total points (1,739), second in scoring (13.6) and total rebounds (1,007). In her five seasons, she led the team in total points, scoring and rebounding for three straight seasons. Her playoff scoring average is 14.1 points.

Crystal Robinson (1999-2005), #3. The case for Robinson: Outside shooting made Robinson a lethal scorer, as she is theLiberty’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made (400). She is fourth all-time in games played for theLiberty(216), third in total points (2,301), fifth in steals (232) and assists (440) and eighth in scoring average (10.4). She is tied for second in most playoff games played (34) and is first in team history for playoff 3-pointers made (166).

Tamika Whitmore (1999-2003), #44. The case for Whitmore: In 156 games for the Libs, Whitmore averaged 8.9 points and amassed 1,394 total points. Her 98 blocked shots are fifth all-time, and her 561 rebounds is ninth all-time in team history. She averaged 10.6 points in the playoffs.

Sophia Witherspoon (1997-1999), #13. The case for Witherspoon: The Liberty’s second round selection in the 1997 inaugural WNBA Draft, Witherspoon formed a dynamic combination with Johnson and T-Spoon to helpNew Yorkreach the league championship in the two of the first three seasons. Witherspoon led theLibertyin scoring and 3-point shooting in team’s first two seasons. For her career, she played in 90 games while averaging 12.1 points (third best). She average 7.1 points in the playoffs.

So there you have it, the major selling points for each of the five players eligible for the remaining spot in theLiberty’s first Ring of Honor induction class. Believe me, choosing between Lobo (one of the cornerstones of the franchise, let alone the WNBA), Phillips (a dominant force), Robinson (consistent outside threat), Whitmore (one of the most underrated Libertyplayers ever) and Witherspoon (an originalLibertygroundbreaker) is one of the most difficult ballots I’ve ever cast. But alas, it must be done.

A couple of weeks ago, I might have considered Lobo’s historical significance or Robinson’s shooting touch. But today, I voted for Tari Phillips. For me, it’s tough to ignore a hard-working inside player. Banging and bruising for rebounds and post position takes a lot out of a person, but it also takes a lot of heart. Phillips undoubtedly did that and showed her guts game in and game out for five seasons. Keep in mind that Phillips put up noteworthy numbers for theLibertyfollowing an All-Star career with the now-defunct ABL.

Let’s keep in mind that this doesn’t shut the door on those who aren’t elected. TheLibertywill surely have more Ring of Honor inductions in the future, and the four who don’t make it this time will have a good shot in the next round.

In the meantime, theLibertywill announce the results of the fan ballot and the fifth Ring of Honor selection next week. On Thursday,New Yorkwill induct Wicks into the Ring of Honor during halftime of theLiberty’s game against the Mystics.

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