On November 5th, 2009 Basketball Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman added a new piece of history to her already illustrious career when Donnie Nelson and Evan Wyly, co-owners of Frisco’s NBA Development League team, announced the hiring of Nancy to lead the Frisco, TX newest professional sports team. Nelson and Wyly have tapped Nancy as the franchise’s first head coach. Lieberman, widely considered one of the most influential figures in women’s basketball history, will become the first female head coach to lead an NBA or NBA D-League team. Nancy will begin coaching the Frisco, TX D-League team starting in 2010.
On July 24th , 2008 Nancy signed to play for the Detroit Shock of the WNBA. Thus becoming the oldest player to ever play in the history of the league at the young age of 50. This breaks the previous record of 39 years old which Nancy established as a member of the Phoenix Mercury in 1997. Her rise through the ranks of professional sports and her significant contributions to women’s basketball encompasses such a rich and elaborate history. Lieberman’s distinguished career is one of monumental strength and motivation in the pursuit of becoming the greatest women’s basketball player. Her refusal to accept anything less than the best, her devotion to the sport, her relentless time and energy to the advancement of women playing professional basketball are a source of inspiration. Her quest for excellence is brilliantly diversified as a Hall of Famer, two-time Olympian, three-time All-American, WNBA coach & GM, acclaimed broadcaster for ESPN/ABC/NBA TV, motivational speaker, and esteemed writer. Nancy Lieberman represents the epitome of triumph and serves as a true pioneer for women in sports.
Lieberman’s journey began on the rough and tumble asphalt courts of Harlem, which was no small departure from her native of Queens, New York. Lieberman quickly developed a reputation as a tough and gritty basketball powerhouse while attending Far Rockaway High School. In 1974, Lieberman’s talents were illuminated on the national spotlight after garnering one of 12 coveted spots on the USA’s National Team, and a year later managed to bring home a gold and silver medal at both the World Championships and Pan American Games respectively. Prior to enrolling at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia on a full athletic scholarship, Lieberman set another landmark by becoming the youngest basketball player in Olympic History (male or female) at 18 years old, and earned a silver medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.
Lieberman exploded onto the college scene and would ultimately drive the Lady Monarchs to two consecutive National Championships, a WNIT Championship, and leave a lasting impact that would be near impossible to replicate. Lieberman became the first ever two-time winner of the prestigious Wade Trophy, which recognizes the “Player of the Year” in women’s college basketball. Lieberman was selected as the Broderick Award winner for basketball as the top women’s player in America, as well as received three consecutive Kodak All-American honors during her collegiate career, making her one of the most decorated female athletes in the United States.
Lieberman went on to shape the landscape and future of women’s professional basketball as player, coach and renowned analyst. Beginning her professional career with the Dallas Diamonds of the Women’s Basketball League in 1981, she quickly led her team in 1984 to the WABA Championship, while also capturing the title of league MVP. More remarkably, Lieberman is recognized as the only woman to play in an all-male league, the United States Basketball League with the Springfield Fame (1986), and Long Island Knights (1987). In 1988, Lieberman toured the world with the acclaimed Harlem Globetrotters as a member of the Washington Generals. In 1997 Lieberman came out of retirement and was drafted by the Phoenix Mercury during the inaugural season of the WNBA. During her time as a professional player, Lieberman hit several milestones including an induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1996 and in 1999 was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame as well as the NYC Basketball Hall of Fame and the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.
After playing in the WNBA, Lieberman was named General Manager and Head Coach of the WNBA’s Detroit Shock in 1998, where she helmed the team to the highest winning percentage of any expansion team in professional sports and was runner up for coach of the year. Lieberman served as president of the Women’s Sports Foundation for two years. Thereafter, she was named head coach of the Dallas Fury of the NWBL in 2004 where she guided the team to a championship title and runner up in 2005.
Lieberman’s career progressed from playing and coaching and into national commentating, motivational speaking engagements and philanthropic endeavors. Lieberman currently serves as a full-time analyst with ESPN for men’s and women’s college basketball, as well as women’s (WNBA). In addition to ESPN, Lieberman has lent her commentary to NBA-TV as a studio analyst, and writing talents to ABC, NBC, the NFL Network, the Dallas Morning News, the New York Times and USA Today. Lieberman is an accomplished author, having penned an autobiography entitled Lady Magic and Basketball for Women, and several “how-to” videos providing instruction and advice to aspiring basketball players.
Throughout her entire career Lieberman’s progress as a successful athlete and leader was based on her boldness and ability to take positive action. She is an influential communicator and has a passion for educating athletes and business leaders to improve efficiency and attain peak performance. Lieberman’s in depth industry experience is unparalleled and it is for this reason that Lieberman is recognized as a prolific motivational speaker for Fortune 500 companies. Nancy travels around the country to conduct speaking engagements for private and public corporations, non-for profit organizations and basketball camps. She speaks on a myriad of topics such as Business and sports, Image and Self Esteem, Teamwork, Winning, Working, and Parenting.
Guiding youngsters and helping the disadvantaged has always been a passion for Lieberman and is reflected in her active involvement with the Special Olympics, the Jimmy V. Foundation (named for the late Jim Valvano), the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and recently her work with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Lone Star Chapter. Lieberman hosts and coach’s basketball clinics and camps for girls and boys in Dallas, Detroit and Phoenix, hoping that through positive guidance and helpful instruction, can help facilitate the next generation of student athletes to success.
Lieberman’s career is a colorful one and her impact on women’s basketball and professional sport is impressive. It is only fitting that awards are given in her honor, such as the Nancy Lieberman Award, which is bestowed upon the most outstanding female point guard in NCAA Division I Basketball, and have adorned the likes of Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Temeka Johnson, Ivory Latta, and Lindsey Harding. Nancy Lieberman’s legacy as a mom, basketball player, Hall of Famer, coach & GM, Olympian, writer, broadcaster, and motivator will forever endure.