The New York Liberty announced on Thursday that the team has named Herb Williams and Katie Smith assistant coaches, and Teresa Weatherspoon director of player development. Per team policy, terms of the deals will not be disclosed.
“In her first season, Katie showed that she has the leadership and communication skills required to be an excellent coach, and I expect her to contribute even more this year,” said Liberty Head Coach Bill Laimbeer. “Herb will have instant credibility with our players, and his extensive bench experience will be invaluable to our team. When he told me that he would be interested in the job, it was a no brainer to bring him on our staff.”
“As a player, T-Spoon was legendary for her work ethic and constant dedication to improvement,” said Kristin Bernert, Senior Vice President of Business and Basketball Operations, New York Liberty. “She will lead our efforts in making our players the best they can be both on and off of the court, with a primary focus on skill development this season”
Williams returns to Madison Square Garden after spending 13 seasons as a coach for the New York Knicks (2001-2014), which marked the longest tenure of any on-the-bench assistant coach in franchise history. He first joined the Knicks’ staff as an assistant on Dec. 29, 2001, and on two occasions, took the helm as the head coach. The Ohio State alum played in the NBA for 18 seasons with the Pacers, Mavericks, Knicks, and Raptors, averaging 10.8 points and 5.9 rebounds in 1,102 career games. Williams was a member of the Knicks’ 1994 and 1999 Eastern Conference Championship teams and became the oldest Knick to ever appear in a game (41 years, four months, nine days) during Game Five of the 1999 NBA Finals against San Antonio. On Feb. 20, 2012, he proudly accepted the distinguished Dick McGuire Knickerbocker Legacy Award.
Smith returns to the Liberty for her second season as an assistant coach. A 14-year WNBA veteran, Smith played on four different teams (Detroit, Minnesota, Washington, Seattle) before spending her final season with the Liberty. Appearing in 448 career games, Smith averaged 13.9 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game. Smith is the all-time leading scorer in women’s professional basketball, having notched over 7,000 points in both her American Basketball League and WNBA career. The Ohio State graduate holds the distinction of being the first female Buckeye athlete to have her number retired and is an Olympic gold medalist, winning gold three times with Team USA in 2000, 2004 and 2008.
A Liberty legend, Weatherspoon joined the team in the WNBA’s inaugural season in 1997, leading the Liberty to the first-ever WNBA Finals. That same year, she became the league’s first winner of the Defensive Player of the Year Award, winning again the following year. Following seven seasons with the Liberty, Weatherspoon signed with the Los Angeles Sparks in 2004, retiring at the end of the season.
During her time in the league, Weatherspoon started 220 straight games and led the Liberty to four WNBA Finals appearances in 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2002. Weatherspoon began her coaching career as the head coach of the Westchester Phantoms of the American Basketball Association in 2007. In 2008, she joined the coaching staff of the Lady Techsters of Louisiana Tech, where she was the head coach from 2009-2013. Weatherspoon was elected to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.
The New York Liberty will tip off the 2015 regular season on Fri., June 5 at 7:30 p.m. at Madison Square Garden, hosting the Atlanta Dream. Season ticket packages are available by calling 212-465-6073 or by visiting NYLiberty.com.