In her first season with the New York LibertyBreanna Stewart has been named the 2023 WNBA MVP in the closest-three way race in league history, it was announced Tuesday.

Stewart and runner-up Alyssa Thomas of the Connecticut Sun were separated by seven points, the second-smallest margin between the winner and runner-up in the award’s history. The 13 points separating Stewart and the Las Vegas Aces‘ A’ja Wilson, who was third, mark the narrowest margin between the top three MVP vote-getters in league history.

It is the second MVP award for Stewart, who won her first in 2018 while playing for the Seattle Storm in just her third season in the pros. Fast-forward to 2023 and she can’t help but reflect on how dramatically her life has changed as she etches her place in WNBA lore once more.

“That’s something that is really special to me when I think about it,” Stewart told ESPN on Tuesday. “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 [Ruby, born in 2021] and we’re having another one.”

Stewart’s wife, Marta Xargay Casademont, is pregnant with the couple’s second child and due in October, so Stewart said she was “a little bit more emotional” when she heard the news. Ruby, their 2-year-old daughter, may not have completely understood what was going on, but did start moving Stewart’s 2018 MVP trophy around in their home, so maybe had the sense something was up.

“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,” Stewart said.

The announcement came hours before New York was to host the Sun in Game 2 of their WNBA semifinal series (8 p.m., ESPN).

Seven months after signing with the Liberty in what arguably was the biggest free agency move in league history, Stewart sometimes still can’t believe she plays for New York. Now, she is the franchise’s first MVP and with six more wins could lead them to their first WNBA title.

The 2016 No. 1 overall pick is the eighth player in league history to win multiple MVP awards, fourth player to win it in their first season with a franchise and the second player to win MVP with multiple franchises.

“It’s definitely an honor to be able to say this is my second and to be able to do it in a Liberty jersey for the first time ever,” said Stewart, who was a two-time champion and two-time Finals MVP with the Storm. “I’m excited for what’s going to come tonight, and hopefully the fans are going to go nuts.”

Stewart also is the first Liberty player to be named MVP in the franchise’s 27-year history.

“Stewie’s first season with the New York Liberty has been nothing short of historic on every level,” Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb said in a statement. “The constant resiliency, belief, selflessness, toughness, and professionalism she has brought to the Liberty on a nightly basis is an incredibly rare combination — culminating in such a special season, both personally and collectively.”

 

Stewart earned 20 first-place votes, 23 second-place votes and 17 third-place votes for a total of 446 total points from a national panel of 60 sportswriters and broadcasters.

Thomas garnered 23 first-place votes, which is the second time in WNBA history that an MVP runner-up has received more first-place votes than the winner. Lauren Jackson came in second to Sheryl Swoopes in 2005 despite receiving 20 first-place vote to Swoopes’ 16.

Wilson received 17 first-place votes.