Breanna Stewart, arguably the best player of the 2023 WNBA free agent class, will take her talents to the Big Apple after signing with the New York Liberty.
The specifics of Stewart's contract are still being worked out, sources told ESPN.
Before making her decision, Stewart had WNBA Twitter playing detective trying to decode cryptic tweets she posted during her free agency journey. The emoji-heavy posts had the basketball world on the edge of its seat until Stewart announced her move.
Here's a recap of Stewart's WNBA free agency on Twitter:
Five days before the negotiating window for WNBA free agency began, Stewart posted a mystifying tweet containing 15 emojis. Among those included were a trophy, a bag of money, a crocodile and a newspaper. The post sent WNBA Twitter into a frenzy as several accounts tried to decipher what Stewart wrote.
Sue Bird, who played with Stewart on the Seattle Storm from 2016 to 2022, just had to let Stewart know which emoji she forgot.
You forgot the 🍆 https://t.co/lNKTXh31VA— Sue Bird (@S10Bird) January 16, 2023
Three days after her first emoji-laden tweet, Stewart posted another message with a hot pepper and a calendar.
Based on Stewart's emoji selection, the restaurant Chili's Bar and Grill thought she had inquired about its hours of operation.
we're open ❤️🔥— Chili's Grill & Bar (@Chilis) January 20, 2023
On the Jan. 19 episode of The Ringer's "Real Ones" podcast, Bird discussed Stewart's free agency.
Sue Bird discussed how New York may be a better fit for Breanna Stewart's lifestyle and why money may not be a big factor in her decision 👀 pic.twitter.com/HkdF4TmZQH— espnW (@espnW) January 20, 2023
Stewart's next tweet contained eight emojis, including a siren light, an ice cube and a checkered flag.
🚨😈🧃🧊📌♻️🏁🍣— Breanna Stewart (@breannastewart) January 20, 2023
But her second tweet of the day provided some legit free agency insight. Stewart posted a tweet with four emojis: a storm cloud, a wolf, a classical-style building and the Statue of Liberty.
ESPN's Ramona Shelburne later reported that Stewart would meet with the Storm, Minnesota Lynx, Washington Mystics and New York Liberty. The meetings took place in Istanbul, Turkey, where Stewart plays for Fenerbahce of the Turkish women's basketball league.
Breanna Stewart will meet with the Seattle Storm, Minnesota Lynx, Washington Mystics and New York Liberty when free agency opens at midnight ET, sources told ESPN. The meetings will take place in Istanbul, where Stewart is currently playing. https://t.co/aj5w9JgMa8— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) January 20, 2023
The news of Stewart's upcoming meetings came after the Liberty acquired 2021 WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones from the Connecticut Sun.
The day WNBA free agency began, Stewart published another mysterious tweet. Some of the characters used were a women's basketball player, the "soon arrow" emoji and a warning sign.
⛹🏻♀️☕️🔜⚠️🔋— Breanna Stewart (@breannastewart) January 21, 2023
Although free agents could start negotiating contracts on Jan. 21, they cannot officially sign with their chosen teams until Feb. 1.
Stewart returned to Twitter with a longer tweet than the day before. Among the emojis used were a plane, an alien, a teddy bear and a cookie.
✈️🗳️🌊👽🔮🧸💰⏳🍪🪴— Breanna Stewart (@breannastewart) January 22, 2023
Stewart also tweeted about providing charter flights for WNBA players for the upcoming season. She has been vocal about making such transportation available in the past and, according to Shelburne, has made it a factor in her free agency.
I would love to be part of a deal that helps subsidize charter travel for the entire WNBA.— Breanna Stewart (@breannastewart) January 22, 2023
I would contribute my NIL, posts + production hrs to ensure we all travel in a way that prioritizes player health + safety, which ultimately results in a better product.
Who's with me?
Her tweet received support from stars across the sports world, including Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu, who not-so-subtly added her opinion on where she could make that happen.
January 22, 2023
More: https://t.co/8K2qBtDBrs pic.twitter.com/VTxkcGpNQU— ESPN (@espn) January 26, 2023
Almost a week into WNBA free agency, there was no news of Stewart's decision. Instead, she tweeted three emojis.
🙇🏻♀️⚖️🤹🏻♀️— Breanna Stewart (@breannastewart) January 26, 2023
The WNBA received some big free agency news, but not from Stewart. Two-time MVP Candace Parker announced she will sign with the Las Vegas Aces in an Instagram post. Parker joins an Aces team that won the 2022 WNBA title and has tons of star power in A'ja Wilson, Chelsea Gray, Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young.
Read more: Candace Parker to Las Vegas Aces stuns WNBA Twitter
After Parker's decision, unrestricted free agent Erica Wheeler wanted Stewart to reveal her choice next.
Stew where you at!!!! 👀👀👀 the folks waiting on you ! 🤣🤣🤣 stop the toying 🤣— Erica Wheeler (@EWeezy_For3eezy) January 28, 2023
NBA superstar Kevin Durant made his feelings known about where he wants Stewart to sign. On an episode of his "The ETCs with Kevin Durant" podcast, Durant said he reached out to Stewart about potentially signing with the Liberty.
.@KDTrey5 REALLY wants Breanna Stewart to join the New York Liberty. 🗽👀— Boardroom (@boardroom) January 30, 2023
"I hit [Breanna Stewart] the other day, and I never do this, and was like, 'Yo, it would be an incredible dynasty in New York City if you came here.'" pic.twitter.com/BTnCtkETJW
Stewart made her announcement to the world by tweeting one final emoji: the Statue of Liberty. To make it even more clear, she had an image of the Empire State Building (which was recently in the news for celebrating the Philadelphia Eagles' win over the San Francisco 49ers) with her name in lights, along with a video of her wearing a Liberty shirt set to Jay Z's "Empire State of Mind". An appropriate ending to an epic saga.
February 1, 2023