The Liberty make their much-anticipated return to the Garden this year after playing their home games in New Jersey for the past three seasons, and they bring with them a new star in Queens native and 2012 WNBA MVP Tina Charles.
Charles, who was pried from the Sun in a draft-day blockbuster last month, seemed excited to be back home after taking the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises’ BEAST Speedboat from New Jersey to Manhattan in an event to welcome the team back to New York.
“It’s gonna be really sweet,” Charles told amNewYork. “It’s a blessing to be here, to play at the Garden. I grew up a big Liberty and Knicks fan, so to be a part of this franchise is really beautiful.”
Charles, a rebounding and double-double machine, is expected to make a significant impact on the Liberty, who missed the playoffs last season for the first time since 2009.
“[Charles is] an outstanding post player, one of the best rebounders in the world,” head coach Bill Laimbeer said. “She’s a person you can count on every night to get you 18 points and 10 rebounds, and that’s what we went out and got her for, to have that consistency.”
Charles was certainly consistent with the Sun after being selected with the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft, averaging a double-double in each of her four seasons. Still, she always had playing for her hometown Liberty in the back of her mind.
“It’s something that I wanted to do as far as my career,” said Charles, a former standout at Christ the King High School in Middle Village. “I didn’t know it was gonna be this soon, but I’m happy it happened.”