Sabrina Ionescu of the New York Liberty. Oct 18, 2023; Brooklyn, New York, USA; New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu (20) during pregame warmups prior to game four of the 2023 WNBA Finals at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Liberty suffered a brutal home loss in Game Four of the WNBA Finals on Wednesday night, watching as the Las Vegas Aces celebrated their back-to-back titles on the Barclays Center floor.

Postgame, only New York head coach Sandy Brondello and veteran stars Breanna Stewart and Courtney Vandersloot appeared for media interviews. That broke the WNBA media policy, which requires any players specifically requested by reporters to be made available. In turn, the WNBA fined New York $25,000 on Thursday.

The remaining three players from the Liberty starting lineup — Sabrina Ionescu, Jonquel Jones and Betnijah Laney — were also fined $2,000 each.

New York’s handling of postgame interviews put a spotlight on a couple other issues as well.

The WNBA and its players this year changed its media policy to close locker rooms to the press after reopening them post-pandemic for the 2022 season. Part of the league’s commitment at the time of that policy change was that player access would be more consistent pre- and post-game upon request.

By failing to uphold that standard as the home market in the Finals, the Liberty brought negative publicity to the league in its most high-profile moment.

Separately, the incident (somewhat unfairly) put Brondello in focus once again. Two years ago to the day, Brondello’s Phoenix Mercury were fined $10,000 by the WNBA for breaking the media policy following their own Finals loss.

In that case, Brondello was the only one to speak. The league did not explain why the fine was harsher this time.

Of course, Brondello deserves credit for speaking with media in both cases. Perhaps her teams leaving her out to dry twice is just coincidence.

Either way, twice in three years, players refused to uphold their Collective Bargaining Agreement and participate in mandated media interviews following a close-fought Finals.

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.