Nancy “Lady Magic” Lieberman is a true pioneer in women’s sports. Her extensive resume includes NBA Coach, WNBA player and coach, general manager, sports broadcaster for ABC, NBC, ESPN, and FOX Sports Southwest, motivational speaker, and author. In addition, Nancy Lieberman is a Basketball Hall of Famer, two-time Olympian, three-time All American, two-time collegiate national champion and a two-time National Player of the Year at Old Dominion University.
Nancy Lieberman has broken ground in the sport of basketball as both a player and coach. Rising through the rank of professional sports, Lieberman has made significant contributions to basketball. Her distinguished career is one of monumental strength and motivation. In pursuit of becoming the greatest women’s basketball player, she refused to accept anything less than the best. Her devotion to the sport and passion for the advancement of women are a source of inspiration.
On July 30, 2015, Nancy Lieberman became the second woman in history to join the coaching staff of an NBA team. Currently, Nancy Lieberman is the Assistant Coach with the Sacramento Kings.
In 2010, Nancy Lieberman became the first female coach of a men’s team under the NBA umbrella when she served as the Head Coach for the Texas Legends, the Dallas Mavericks’ NBA D-League team leading the expansion team to the playoffs in its first season. With a desire to spend more time with her son T.J., who is now a forward in his junior season at Richmond, she moved into a front-office role with the Legends and has spent the past three seasons as an NBA analyst for Fox Sports Oklahoma.
She played and won a silver medal for Team USA at the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal, the first year the Olympics included women’s basketball. At Old Dominion University, she set school records and earned the nickname “Lady Magic.” She played women’s professional basketball for more than 20 years before there was a WNBA, then played in the WNBA’s inaugural 1997 season at age 39. At that point, she had already been inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. After retiring as a player, she went on to coach in the WNBA as Head Coach and General Manager of the Detroit Shock leading the expansion team to the playoffs.
Nancy Lieberman’s basketball journey began on the asphalt courts of Harlem, which was no small departure from her native hometown of Queens, New York. Lieberman quickly developed a reputation as a tough and gritty basketball powerhouse as a 15-year-old junior attending Far Rockaway High School. In 1975, she garnered one of 12 coveted spots on the USA’s Women’s National Basketball Team, catapulting her into the national spotlight. A year later, she brought home a silver medal at the World Championships (in South America) and a gold medal at the Pan American Games (in Mexico). At 18 years old, she earned a silver medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and became the youngest basketball player in Olympic history to medal (male or female).
Lieberman exploded onto the college scene, attending Old Dominion University on a full athletic scholarship. She led the Lady Monarchs to two consecutive National Championships (’79-’80) and a WNIT Championship. 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. She was also selected as the Broderick Award Winner for Basketball as the top women’s player in America. In addition, she received three consecutive Kodak All-American honors during her collegiate career, making her one of the most decorated female athletes in the United States.
In 1981, Lieberman was the first draft pick by the Dallas Diamonds in the first Women’s Professional Basketball League (WBL). That year the Diamonds lost in the finals of the WBL championship. In 1984, she led the team to the WABA Championship and was named league MVP.
Lieberman is recognized as the only woman to play in a men’s professional sports league. In 1986, she played with the Springfield Fame (United States Basketball League, USBL), and in 1987, she joined the Long Island Knights (USBL).
In 1988, Lieberman toured the world as a member of the Washington Generals, the most well-known and recognized opponents of the acclaimed Harlem Globetrotters.
In 1997 – at the age of 39 – Lieberman came out of retirement and was drafted by the Phoenix Mercury during the inaugural season of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). She became the oldest player to ever play in the league. On July 24, 2008, Lieberman broke her own record when she returned to the WNBA for one game with the Detroit Shock at the age of 50.
During her professional career, “Lady Magic” received several awards, including an induction into the prestigious Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996. In 1999, she was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. In addition, Lieberman was the first woman to be inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame, as well as the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and the Hampton Roads Hall of Fame.
The Coach & Leader
After retiring as a player in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), Nancy Lieberman was named general manager and head coach of the WNBA’s Detroit Shock in 1998. 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 took on another leadership role when she served as president of the Women’s Sports Foundation for two years. Later, she served as head coach of the Dallas Fury of the NWBL, guiding the team to a championship title.
On November 5, 2009, Basketball Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman added a new piece of history to her already illustrious career. She was appointed as the first female head coach in the National Basketball Association (NBA), taking the leadership role as head coach for the Dallas Mavericks’ NBA D-League Team, the Texas Legends. She led the team to the playoffs in their first season as an expansion team.
On July 30, 2015, Nancy Lieberman became the second female in history to coach in the NBA, becoming the Assistant Coach for the Sacramento Kings.
The Public Figure
Nancy Lieberman’s career progressed into national commentating, motivational speaking and philanthropic endeavors.
She served as an analyst for ESPN/ABC for the NBA, WNBA and NCAA Women’s Basketball. She has provided commentary for NBA-TV, NBC and the NFL Network. Starting in the 2012-13 season, Lieberman joined the Thunder LIVE! broadcast team as an Analyst on FOX Sports Southwest’s production of Oklahoma City Thunder games. In 2014, SiriusXM NBA Radio on Channel 217 launched, and Nancy hosted a live weekly show where she took questions from listeners and shared her basketball insights.
Lieberman has been a contributor for the Dallas Morning News, The New York Times and USA Today. She is also an accomplished author, having penned an autobiography entitled “Lady Magic,” two editions of “Basketball for Women” and, most recently, the “Playbook for Success.” In her latest book, she brings her leadership and coaching insights into the boardroom to help teach the many parallels between being successful on the court and in business.
In addition, Lieberman has created several instructional and advice-driven videos for aspiring basketball players.
Throughout her 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 that reason that she is recognized as a prolific motivational speaker for Fortune 500 companies.
Lieberman travels around the country speaking to private and public corporations, non-profit organizations and basketball camps. Her speaking engagements cover a myriad of topics such as business and sports, image and self-esteem, teamwork and winning, and working and parenting.
During her career, Lieberman achieved monumental success, and her legacy has forever impacted the sport. It is only fitting that awards are given in her honor, such as the Nancy Lieberman Award, which is given to the most outstanding female point guard in NCAA Division I Basketball, and it has adorned the likes of Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Temeka Johnson, Ivory Latta, and Lindsey Harding.
Guiding youngsters and helping the disadvantaged has always been a passion for Lieberman, and through this philosophy, The Nancy Lieberman Charities was born. Education and wellness is at the heart of the many programs that the Nancy Lieberman Charities provides, which includes educational college scholarships, basketball camps and clinics, Laptops and Back-2-School Backpacks.
During the summer, Nancy hosts and coaches basketball clinics and camps for girls and boys in Dallas. She hopes that through positive guidance and helpful instruction, she can propel the next generation of student athletes to success on and off the court.
In partnership with the WorldVentures Foundation, the Nancy Lieberman Charities is building Dream Courts™ across the nation. These courts serve as a safe area for children to play basketball, interact with their peers, learn important life lessons such as teamwork, and, most importantly, to have fun!
The Nancy Lieberman Charities recognizes that it is important that they give children all of the encouragement and mentorship they can to help them realize their dreams. Not every child has the same opportunities in life, and it is important to ensure that they are given a great education to better position themselves to achieve their aspirations.
In addition to Lieberman’s impressive charity work, Lieberman has supported and participated in numerous national charities throughout the country. Lieberman sits on the Board of Governors for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and The NBA Retired Players Association. She also served on the 2013 NCAA Final Four Organizing Committee in Dallas and on the 2014 Super Bowl Steering Committee in New York.
From Lieberman’s humble beginnings, Nancy remains determined to give back more than she has received.