Nancy Lieberman honored for contributions to women’s basketball
ATLANTA — Nancy Lieberman, a Hall of Famer and pioneer in the basketball world, was selected as the 2014 Naismith Outstanding Contributor to Women’s College Basketball award winner, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced on Wednesday.
First given in 1993 to Margaret Wade, the Naismith Outstanding Contributor to Women’s Basketball Award is presented annually to individuals whose extraordinary efforts have made contributions of outstanding significance and have created a long‐lasting positive impact on the game of basketball. The recipients display character, integrity and dignity, and have contributed mightily to the growth, success and viability of basketball. To be eligible, an individual must have been involved with the sport in a capacity related to coaching, broadcasting, college administration or the news media.
Selected by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Directors, Lieberman will be recognized at the Naismith Trophy Welcome Brunch on April 6, 2014, at the men’s Final Four in North Texas. Lieberman serves on the Dallas Final Four Organizing Committee.
“Nancy has not only achieved excellence at the highest levels, but has sustained it over several decades, making her a deserving recipient of this prestigious award,” Eric Oberman said, Atlanta Tipoff Club Executive Director. “She continues to be an outstanding ambassador of the sport, and is a welcome addition to the Naismith Awards family.”
“To be selected as the recipient of this year’s Naismith Outstanding Contributor Award is an absolute honor, Lieberman said. “I am proud to follow in the footsteps of our game’s greatest leaders, who have previously won the award. The bar is set high! I am blessed to be on the team.”
Lieberman garnered tremendous success at an early age as a member of the U.S. National Team, bringing home a gold and silver medal at the World Championships and Pan American Games, respectively. At a mere 18 years of age, she earned a silver medal at the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics. Lieberman went on to attend Old Dominion, where she earned three consecutive Kodak All‐American honors and led the Lady Monarchs to two consecutive national championships and a WNIT championship.
After college, Lieberman continued to achieve on the court at the professional level. In 1984, she won a WABA championship with the Dallas Diamonds, while also capturing the league MVP crown. More remarkably, Lieberman is recognized as the only woman to play in an all‐male league: the United States Basketball League with both the Springfield Fame (1986) and the Long Island Knights (1987).
In 1988, Lieberman toured the world with the acclaimed Harlem Globetrotters as a member of the Washington Generals. In 1997, when her professional career was thought to be over, she came out of retirement to play for the Phoenix Mercury during the inaugural season of the WNBA at the record age of 39. In 2008, at the age of 50 she broke her own record to play for the Detroit Shock.
Lieberman’s career accomplishments have been largely recognized, as she has been inducted into both the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1996) and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (1999).
As Lieberman’s career progressed from playing and coaching, she moved into national commentating, motivational speaking and philanthropic endeavors. She has served as an NBA, WNBA and NCAA women’s basketball analyst for ESPN/ABC, and has provided commentary for NBA‐TV, NBC and the NFL Network. She is the first and only woman to be named head coach of an NBA level team when she was selected to coach the Dallas Mavericks NBA D‐League affiliate the Texas Legends and currently serves as their assistant GM as well as the studio analyst for the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder.
Outside the world of broadcasting, Lieberman has written 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, Playbook for Success her first business book. Looking to reach people across more platforms, she has also created several “how‐to” videos that provide instruction and advice to aspiring basketball players.
Today, Lieberman travels across the country speaking to public and private organizations, non‐profit organizations, and basketball camps. Though it’s been years since she has donned a uniform, her career accomplishments still resonate among the basketball community, and she continues to contribute to the growth and betterment of the game.