Liberty’s Jonathan Kolb named 2023 WNBA Basketball Executive of the Year

NEW YORK – New York Liberty General Manager Jonathan Kolb has been named the 2023 WNBA Basketball Executive of the Year, the WNBA announced today. Kolb has earned the honor as the league’s top basketball executive for the first time and is the first Liberty executive to win the award.

The voting panel to determine the WNBA Basketball Executive of the Year was composed of the general manager from each of the league’s 12 teams. Each executive submitted a ballot with a first-place vote, second-place vote and third-place vote; the executives could not vote for themselves. The executives received three points for each first-place vote, two points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote.

Kolb and Dallas Wings President, Chief Executive Officer and Partner Greg Bibb were named on the most ballots (eight each). Kolb, who received six first-place votes, won the award by virtue of earning the most total points (20). Bibb finished with 15 points. Connecticut Sun General Manager Darius Taylor (five ballots) finished in third place. Bibb and Taylor each received two first-place votes.

With Kolb in his fifth year as General Manager, New York finished with the second-best record in the WNBA (32-8) in the regular season and posted an .800 winning percentage, the highest figure in the franchise’s 27 seasons and an improvement from its .444 mark (16-20) in 2022. The Liberty also won the championship game of the 2023 WNBA Commissioner’s Cup presented by Coinbase.

The No. 2-seeded Liberty will tip off its first-round playoff series against the No. 7-seeded Washington Mystics tomorrow night (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2).

Leading in to the 2023 season, Kolb completed a three-team trade with the Sun and Wings in January, acquiring 2021 Kia WNBA Most Valuable Player Jonquel Jones from Connecticut and veteran forward Kayla Thornton from Dallas. In February, Kolb signed premier free agents Breanna Stewart, a two-time WNBA champion and the 2018 MVP, and Courtney Vandersloot, also a WNBA champion and a five-time All-WNBA Team selection.

Stewart went on to win three Kia Eastern Conference Player of the Month awards; Vandersloot led the league in assists for a record-tying seventh time; Jones ranked eighth in the WNBA in rebounding and blocked shots; and Thornton averaged 17.3 minutes per game, seeing action off the bench in all 40 games. In addition, Stewart, Vandersloot and teammate Sabrina Ionescu were selected to the 2023 AT&T WNBA All-Star Game, giving New York a trio of All-Stars for the first time since 2003.

Kolb also executed a four-team trade with the Wings, Chicago Sky and Phoenix Mercury, acquiring the rights to forward Leonie Fiebich, the Sky’s 2024 second-round pick and 2025 first-round pick swap rights with the Mercury in exchange for forward Michaela Onyenwere.

In addition, Kolb signed three key Liberty players to contract extensions during the 2023 regular season, with 2022 All-WNBA Team selection and record-setting 2023 STARRY WNBA 3-Point Contest champion Ionescu, 2021 All-Star Betnijah Laney and Thornton agreeing to multi-year extensions through the 2025 season.

Below is the list of recipients of the WNBA Basketball Executive of the Year Award since its inception in 2017.