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Liberty hire four former players to staff

NEW YORK (AP) - The New York Liberty have added four former players to the coaching staff, hiring Barbara Farris and Taj McWilliams-Franklin as assistants and Teresa Weatherspoon and Tamika Whitmore as associate coaches for training camp and various times during the season.

Farris and McWilliams-Franklin both won WNBA championships with the Detroit Shock under Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer before each subsequently came to New York. Farris, who spent six seasons in Detroit and was on the Shock's 2003 WNBA championship team, played for the Liberty in 2006-07. McWilliams-Franklin won a title with Detroit in 2008, and played in New York in 2010 before spending the last two seasons in Minnesota - winning another championship in 2011.

``I wanted assistant coaches that played the game and understand what championship teams are all about,'' Laimbeer said in a release announcing the hirings. ``Taj and Barb are both familiar with my coaching style and know what it takes to win a championship.''

McWilliams-Franklin ended her 14-year playing career after helping the Lynx reach the Finals for the second straight year last season before they lost to Indiana. One of two players in league history - along with Lisa Leslie - to have 5,000 points, 3,000 rebounds and 400 blocked shots, she was an assistant at Rice during the 2012-13 season.

Weatherspoon was a four-time All-Star while playing for the Liberty during the league's first seven seasons and led New York to four WNBA Finals appearances (1997, `99, `00 and `02). Whitmore spent five seasons with the Liberty, appearing in the Finals three times.

``I reached out to Teresa and Tamika to understand the Liberty culture, it's important to respect past success,'' said Laimbeer. ``Both are hard-nose competitors, which is what I believe the culture has been and will continue to be with this team.''

Weatherspoon, inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010, has been the women's coach at Louisiana Tech since 1999 and will continue in that capacity.

``This is a great opportunity for me to learn from someone like Bill Laimbeer, and I can't thank Louisiana Tech enough for allowing me to take this opportunity to grow as a coach,'' she said. ``Words cannot express what it feels like to return to a place that is so special and dear to me.''

The Liberty open training camp on May 6, and visit Connecticut in the season opener on May 25. New York's home opener is May 31 against Tulsa.

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