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Nancy Lieberman: ‘Amazing’ DeMarcus Cousins can fit in with Mavericks

PUBLISHED June 22, 2018 | News

Former Texas Legends and assistant Sacramento Kings coach Nancy Lieberman stopped by the Morning News to give an inspirational speech after she opened her 61st Dream Court in Plano and worked with her basketball camps last week in Frisco. A Hall of Famer, Lieberman is well-known for her work in broadcasting for ESPN, time in the WNBA, and for becoming the first-ever female head coach in a professional basketball league.

We caught up with Lieberman after her BIG 3 team, the Power, beat the Ball Hogs 51-31 on the 22nd in Houston. Here are a few of the highlights:

On her time as an assistant coach with the Kings for 2 years starting in 2015:

Lieberman: “It’s an absolute privilege and a honor to have coached in the NBA for the Sacramento Kings. I’d still be coaching there if my mom hadn’t been sick. But I made my choice and when Clyde Drexler and Ice Cube called me a few months ago, this is the second-best thing I could do. Be around the legends of the game, be around people who are your friends, Hall of Famers and highly competitive players that might not be able to go 94 feet anymore.”

On the Mavs’ first-round pick Luka Doncic:

Lieberman: “I loved the fact that the Mavs took Luka [Doncic]. He’s got more experience than most first-year players that are coming out of college. He’s been playing professionally since he was 13 and he’s answered the call for all those years. He’s unbelievable.”

On the DeMarcus Cousins to the Mavericks rumors:

Lieberman: “Do the Mavs need a big man? Yes they do. Can DeMarcus fit in the Mavericks? Yes he could. DeMarcus is amazing. I’ve never seen a big man his size have a skillset like he does.”

On the Mavs’ recent front-office moves, including trading up for Doncic:

Lieberman: “For coach Carlisle, he felt he need more shooting. Dennis Smith is a tremendous point guard, but to take the pressure off of him, you need as much shooting as you can get. Just look at the Golden State Warriors. These guys have obliterated zone defense. It doesn’t exist anymore because they have so many shooters on the floor. So to win championships, you’re going to have to adjust to that and I think the Mavs are on the right track.”

On a potential return to coaching in the NBA:

Lieberman: “If it’s God’s will, then it will be. I don’t ever sweat it. I am where I’m supposed to be right now. I’m supposed to be working with Ice Cube, who is absolutely amazing and one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever been around.”

On comparing Mark Cuban to Ice Cube:

Lieberman: “We should all be like Ice Cube and Mark Cuban. They’re great founders, great businessmen and I’m just proud to be part of Ice Cube’s family. [Mark] Cuban and Ice Cube are both brilliant people. Mark loves basketball. It’s been a very important part of his life. He’s become uber-successful and he still has this love and passion for the game. Mark turned the Mavs around and Ice Cube invented the BIG3.”

On the importance of sports:

Lieberman: “At this point in society, where there are so many people coming at each other, sports are really important. If everyone played basketball or baseball or whatever sport, you don’t have to agree with everybody. But what you can do is become teammates with one another. And when you’re a teammate, you look at the bigger picture — you hear what everybody is trying to say. Sports teaches a little girl at 8 years old that she doesn’t have to be afraid of competing with a little boy. Because when you’re competing for grades, jobs, and internships, you can’t be afraid to compete.”

On having Muhammad Ali as a mentor:

Lieberman: “I was lucky. I had Muhammad Ali as my hero since I was 10. I was a little girl in the ’70s where there was no WNBA, no Title IX, there was none of that. I sometimes felt hopeless and helpless being a small girl with no father. But sports changed my life and I met Muhammad Ali and he spent the next 40 years being a friend and mentor.”

On a special moment during one of her Dream Court openings for her foundation:

Lieberman: “On one of the first courts we opened, there was a small African-American girl here in Dallas two years ago. It was our first court working with Chief [David] Brown after the shootings. This little girl looked at me, and I asked her, ‘Do you like the court?’ And she responded, ‘It’s really nice. But when are they going to take it away from me?’ And I was just like, ‘What? No one’s taking this court from you.’ And then she just hugged me. I was about to cry. That is why I do what I do.”

On her daily Twitter inspirational quotes:

Lieberman: “I had a friend where I started sending morning inspirational messages to her. Then another person was like, ‘I’d love to get it.’ Then more and more people started getting in on it like Jason Garrett, Tony La Russa, Alvin Gentry, Rick Carlisle, Joe Girardi. There became a group of people who received these messages. It was about 30, 35 people. So one day, I see Jason Garrett at a charity event. And he told me he went to spring training to see the Yankees and he saw Joe Girardi. Joe said to him, ‘When the guys come in in the morning and they’re sitting in the clubhouse, I have an inspirational message.’ And Jason goes, ‘Where do you get these inspirational messages from?’ and Joe says, ‘Oh, I have a friend. Nancy Lieberman. Every morning she sends me an inspirational message.’ And Jason pulls his phone out his pocket and says, ‘Is this today’s message?’ It’s just a way to communicate in the locker room and see what everybody is feeling. I know that people use my quotes. Now I started putting the quotes on social media because I had such good feedback from everybody.”