Women's Hoops Blog

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Have a great night, VJ.

Flashback Time:

June, 1997: 17,780 See Liberty Win Home Opener
With all but a few sections of the upper tier filled, the New York Liberty was welcomed home to Madison Square Garden yesterday by a hugely enthusiastic crowd that generated the energy customary at a big Knicks game.

After winning three straight games on the road to start the season, the Liberty defeated the Phoenix Mercury, 65-57, before 17,780 fans, the biggest turnout yet for a Women's National Basketball Association game and the single-game attendance record for a women's professional basketball game in the United States.
June, 1998: Johnson's 27 Lead Liberty In Victory Over Rockers
For parts of last night's game at Madison Square Garden, it seemed as if Vickie Johnson were the only player on the floor for the Liberty. In the lane or way outside, Johnson was everywhere last night while her teammates were nowhere to be found.
August, 1998: Liberty Turns Showdown Into Rout
Yesterday's game was about more than staying in the W.N.B.A. playoff race.

It was also about finding out if the Liberty, with the end of the regular season near, could play with Houston, a team that Darsch says is in a class by itself.

From the moment Liberty forward Vickie Johnson opened the game with a 3-pointer from the right side, there was no backing down.
August, 2000: Liberty's Johnson Makes Some Magic of Her Own
Vickie Johnson quickly patted Michael Jordan's shoulder as she left the MCI Center court, giddy from her brush with greatness. But tonight, Jordan, a part-owner of the Mystics, was a casual observer. Johnson was the one with the spellbinding touch.

The Liberty's small forward did everything tonight against the Washington Mystics, from hitting the timely jump shots, to playing stingy defense, to breaking the press and exhorting her teammates to silence the thundering crowd of 16,331 fans with victory.
July, 2001: Vickie Johnson Q & A
WB: Considering the word “under appreciated” has often followed your name, what did being voted onto the All-Star team mean to you?

It gave me a different outlook on everything. The first year I was chosen by the coaches – Rebecca [Lobo] was hurt and I replaced her on the team. But this year was special because the fans chose me. It made me realize they really appreciated my game. I don’t go out there and score twenty a game. What I do I get is from hard work, second shots or transition. Very seldom do I get a screen set for me, or a play called to me. I just work hard and give it a 110%. For our fans in New York — and throughout the league – to understand my game touched me a great deal.

WB: How would you describe your personality?

VJ: Quiet, but vicious. (Laughs) Off the court, I’m quiet. On the court, I’m vicious. It’s like night and day. I’m just going to play my game, but once someone starts talking trash, my personality changes, the intensity level increases. Off the court I’m soft spoken and don’t really talk a lot. So [players] consider me quiet and think, “We can push her around and she’s not going to stand up for herself.” But it’s not like that. Once they see that I won’t back down from them, it’s like, “VJ’s quiet, but she’s not that quiet on the court. (Laughs)
July, 2001: Making Herself at Home In an All-Star Fashion
Vickie Johnson never wanted to come to New York. Big city, strange people, different atmosphere -- it was not a place that she expected or wanted to call home.

But in 1997, the city became the ultimate destination for Johnson, a native of Shreveport, La. The reason was that she wanted to play alongside her friend Teresa Weatherspoon.

''I didn't know how I was going to get a chance to play with her,'' said Johnson, who had imagined that she would have to go overseas for the opportunity to be teammates with Weatherspoon while playing professionally.

''Once I heard that Spoon got placed on the team here, I prayed every night for a whole month, 'Lord, let me come to New York.' ''
August, 2001: A Taunt That Still Stings Fuels the Liberty's Resolve
Liberty players remember what Sheri Sam did last month. As the Miami Sol was putting the finishing touches on a 68-52 rout of the Liberty in a nationally televised game at Madison Square Garden, Sam, a Sol forward, mocked the crowd, putting her finger over her lips in a hushing symbol.

''We could have done that here,'' Liberty guard Vickie Johnson said Friday night in the afterglow of her team's 62-46 steamrolling of the Sol in Game 1 of their two-of-three-game playoff series at the American Airlines Arena.

''They did it to our fans; we could have done it to theirs,'' Johnson, the Liberty's top scorer with 18 points, said. ''But we're more respectful. We respect everybody who comes to a W.N.B.A. game.''
August, 2001: Liberty Conquers Sol Zone, And Gains Eastern Finals
The Liberty, which looked so unsteady in losing to the Sol on Sunday, looked great in doing all the things it had to do this time, in the third and deciding game of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Vickie Johnson was a dynamo, Tari Phillips was solid in the middle despite flu-like symptoms, and Teresa Weatherspoon played 30 solid minutes despite a gimpy hamstring. The result was a 72-61 victory and a chance for the Liberty to defend its conference championship.
August, 2002: Johnson Leads Liberty Into Conference Finals
The Liberty essentially won last night behind an inspired effort by guard Vickie Johnson. Before the game, Johnson acknowledged that Catchings, who is 4 inches taller and 16 pounds heavier, had forced her to hesitate on her shot rather than let it flow naturally.

But in Game 3, Johnson did what came naturally. She scored a game-high 19 points, including 11 in the second half, and had a team-high 7 rebounds along with 6 assists. Johnson said there was an epiphany at the close of the first half, when she rimmed a 3-point attempt with 0.2 of a second left.
August, 2005: Steady as She Goes, Johnson Keeps Playoff-Bound Liberty on an Even Keel
Vickie Johnson of the Liberty was 9 years old when she learned the fundamentals of the game from her uncle John Johnson. He never hesitated to take her to basketball games while many other girls in Coushatta, La., were learning to cornmeal catfish.

The Johnsons of Coushatta are quiet by nature, and Vickie was taught early by her uncle to let her game do her talking.
From this Liberty fan to all those San Antonio fans: Y'all raise the roof for VJ tonight, 'kay?