An original Women's National Basketball Association team. Rebecca Lobo, Teresa Weatherspoon and Becky Hammon are the team's stars; Richie Adubato is the coach. They play in Madison Square Garden in New York City.

The Liberty made it to the WNBA Finals three times (1997, 1999 and 2000), losing to the Houston Comets in each try. In 1999, they lost two games to one, with their one victory in that series coming via a half-court buzzer-beating shot by Weatherspoon.

Injuries to Lobo have hampered the Liberty in recent years — she tore her anterior cruciate ligament in 1999 and then again in 2000. If she had been healthy, this team might have won a title or two, as the Liberty really could have used her ability to score near the basket.

The backcourt, on the other hand, is strong. Weatherspoon (nicknamed "T-spoon") is a rock-solid point guard, and Hammon — a star at Colorado State who joined the team in 1999 as an undrafted rookie — has proven to be a dependable second guard. Hammon is also caucasian and cute, so the league's PR machine is drumming her up big-time.

Now, for a personal story: I used to live in New York, and just before I moved west I went to see the Liberty play the Indiana Fever. It was a good game; the Liberty rallied from a sizeable halftime deficit to win the game, and we got free posters, too. But what was going on in the stands was just as interesting.

First, I noticed the cheering — more exaclty, the pitch of the cheering. I've attended a lot of sporting events over my lifetime, but this was the first professional women's sporting event I'd attended, and the cheers were about an octave above what I'm used to at men's games. It's not hard to figure out why — more women in the stands, more high-pitched cheers.

The other effect of the new attendance makeup was the introduction of whole new classes of fans. At a men's sporting event, you'll see Drunk/Belligerent Man, the Old-Timer with Lots of Pins on His Jacket, the Disinterested Spouse, etc. But for the New York Liberty, we've got a whole new batch of stereotypes!

From what I could tell, sitting near me were four distinct types of fans: (1) Families, usually one adult with a pack of eight-year-old children; (2) Couples of twentysomething lesbians, not really cheering loudly; (3) Couples of fortysomething lesbians, cheering like crazy; and (4) Groups of random twentysomethings. (I was in the latter group.)

The most prominent example of type #3 was a couple a few seats away from us. They both wore red shirts, and they both had pre-arranged, synchronized dances. Like, Hammon would hit a three-pointer, and on cue they'd both do the funky chicken. Since they were flaming lesbians, the adults in type #1 looked a little worried (especially when they looked around and realized the presence of type #2, who spent most of the game sitting still while polishing their glasses). But the kids in type #1 thought the dancing was fun, and some joined in, which horrified the adults even more.

All this, I believe, is a good thing. The WNBA is basically an alternative league, striking a contrast to the mainstream NBA-NFL-MLB-NCAA-NHL. And if you're paying money to see an alternative league, you better damn be seeing alternative fans, too. Obviously, one can't expect a NYC-like crowd to show up in Sacramento, but I think it's safe to say that WNBA crowds, on the whole, are far different than NBA crowds.

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