Liberty general chief Jonathan Kolb wins the 2023 WNBA Executive of the Year winner, the league reported Thursday.
Kolb gotten the grant after getting the foremost votes (20), beating out Dallas Wings official Greg Bibb (15) and Connecticut Sun GM Darius Taylor. The grant is voted on by all 12 administrators who aren’t permitted to vote for themselves.
Within a year, the Liberty went from barely making the playoffs to a title contender thanks to a historic offseason in which New York obtained 2021 MVP Jonquel Jones in a three-team deal and signed free agents 2018 MVP Breanna Stewart and seven-time WNBA assists leader Courtney Vandersloot.
The Liberty have established themselves as championship contenders, with Jones, Stewart, and Vandersloot joining forces with 2020 No. 1 draught pick Sabrina Ionescu and 2021 All-Star Betnijah Laney, eager to dethrone the reigning champion Las Vegas Aces, whom they tied 2-2 in the regular season series but finished two games behind in the standings.
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Two routs, ‘great basketball,’ and 1-0 Aces leads Sun 9hThe offseason in New York was a “confluence of events that will probably never happen again.” According to Michael Voepel and Alexa Philippou Kolb, given where the Liberty were in their rebuilding process. The availability of a player like Jones on the trade market, and the unrestricted free agency of Stewart and Vandersloot, already considered two all-time greats.!!!!!!
The Liberty’s Remarkable Turnaround and Playoff Aspirations
The haul was a potential Kolb saw early last year before executing it successfully this offseason. Kolb insured Ionescu, Laney, and sixth woman Kayla Thornton were coming back after they signed multi-year contract extensions during the regular season.
Kolb said“For us to capitalize on it, it was really exciting at the time. You prepare for those moments and you hope that it’s going to break the way you want it to, both with that coming to fruition, those players coming, but then also that it’s going to work on-court.”
The Liberty have the best winning percentage in franchise history (800) with a 32-8 record, a significant improvement. From a 2-20 season in 2020 after Ionescu sustained an early season-ending ankle injury. In August, the Liberty defeated the Aces in the Commissioner’s Cup Championship, marking the franchise’s first championship of any kind.
The second-seeded Liberty begin their playoff run on Friday, hosting the No. 7 seed Washington Mystics at 7:30 p.m. ET.
New York hasn’t won a playoff series since 2015, and the team hasn’t reached the WNBA Finals since 2002. The Liberty, on the other hand, have plenty of championship experience. Stewart won WNBA crowns in 2018 and 2020 (earning Finals MVP both years), Vandersloot in 2021. Jones was a member of two Finals campaigns in 2019 and 2022.