Breanna Stewart just completed her first regular season for the New York Liberty, and this week she was named 2023 WNBA MVP.
When any major star switches teams, there’s always a lot of pressure to live up to the hype generated by the brilliance of their past performance—especially when they sign with a team in the media maelstrom of New York City.
Suffice it to say, Stewart lived up to expectations.
The MVP award was Stewart’s second as she had previously won in 2018 with the Seattle Storm. It was also the closest three-way voting in league history, with Stewart taking the honors over Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas by a scant seven points and Las Vegas’ A’ja Wilson by only 13.
As Stewart explained to ESPN’s Alexa Philippou, the many changes in her life since her first MVP made her especially grateful for this one. Chief among those life changes are her wife, Marta Xargay, and two-year old daughter Ruby.
“That’s something that is really special to me when I think about it,” Stewart said. “My first one was in 2018. I was still under my rookie contract and now look to 2023, I’m married to a beautiful wife, have a baby, and we’re having another one.”
She told ESPN that having her daughter there to see her win this award makes it extra special.
“Ruby is someone that’s going to be able to see her mommy get MVP and that’s something that I definitely take a lot of pride in,” she exclaimed.
Stewart and Xargay are expecting their second child in October.
While leading the Liberty to a 32-8 record during the regular season, Stewart averaged 23.0 points, 3.8 assists, and 9.3 rebounds per game. The Liberty are currently tied with Thomas’ Connecticut Sun at a game apiece in the WNBA semifinals. She was awarded the MVP trophy during a ceremony before New York’s 84-77 victory in Game 2.
The closeness of the race caused considerable controversy in both Connecticut and Las Vegas, with both organizations understandably standing up for their stars. Aces Head Coach Becky Hammon even went so far as to bring a color-coded statistical breakdown notecard to a recent press conference to support Wilson’s candidacy.
In response, Stewart was magnanimous in victory.
“I think the three of us continue to make one another better,” she told SportsCenter. “Obviously A’ja and A.T. had tremendous seasons this year and continue to do so year in and year out. The most exciting part about this is the ability to have more conversations around multiple players and show how great we are at a lot of different things and continue to use that to amplify the message of the WNBA and where we’re going.”
After claiming the first MVP in Liberty history, Stewart has turned her attention to helping New York take home its first WNBA Championship.
Now that’s how you make a great first impression.