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Nancy Lieberman becomes first female head coach in a men’s pro sports league

PUBLISHED March 21, 2018 | News

Nancy Liberman is already a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, but her accomplishments in basketball continue to astound.

The legendary player who was a three-time All-American, two-time Olympian, WNBA star and currently serves as a broadcaster for the New Orleans Pelicans has been named the new head coach of the Power, a team in the BIG3 league. The league, which was created by entertainer Ice Cube and entertainment executive Jeff Kwatinetz, pits retired NBA players against each other in 3-on-3 games.

Lieberman replaces Clyde Drexler, who was recently named the BIG3’s commissioner. She will coach players such as Corey Maggette, Cuttino Mobley and DeShawn Stevenson as they face former NBA stars like Allen Iverson, Charles Oakley, Mike Bibby and Kenyon Martin.

“We have added an absolutely tremendous coach in Nancy Lieberman – not a tremendous female coach, a tremendous coach, period,” BIG3 Chairman Amy Trask said in a statement. “With this latest addition to our BIG3 team, Ice Cube and Jeff Kwatinetz have again demonstrated that they hire without regard to gender, race, religion, ethnicity and other individualities which have no bearing whatsoever on whether one can do a job.”

Lieberman got an introduction to BIG3 ball when she was invited to be a guest assistant coach for the Ball Hogs last year, during their inaugural season. At first, Ball Hogs head coach Rick Barry offered her game tickets during his team’s Dallas stop, but then another idea came to mind.

“And he calls me back five minutes later and goes ‘you know what? Why don’t you be my assistant coach for the game?’” Lieberman said on Wednesday morning.

Rightfully so. Lieberman has quite the coaching résumé. She was previously the head coach for the Detroit Shock of the WNBA, the head coach of the Texas Legends in the NBA’s D-League, and an assistant coach for the Sacramento Kings.

“Nancy is one of the sharpest basketball minds and also one of the most competitive,” said Drexler in a statement. “Her experience and basketball acumen will stand out in the BIG3, which is filled with star players and coaches. I couldn’t be happier to pass her the coaching torch.”

Now 59, Lieberman is thrilled with the opportunity to coach guys who still want to compete at a high level despite being in their 30s, 40s and 50s. After all, she suited up in the WNBA at the age of 39, and then again at 50.

“We are athletes. We are born and bred to compete,” she told ESPN. “That’s what we know, and as long as we can still play at a high level, I think it’s great Ice Cube has given us this platform.”