PUBLISHED March 21, 2018 | News
Nancy Lieberman, the one-time Sacramento Kings assistant, former D-League coach and former WNBA player, got her first taste of coaching in the BIG3 in its inaugural league when Rick Barry called and said his Big 3 team was coming to Dallas.
At first, he offered tickets to her and her son. “And he calls me back five minutes later and goes ‘you know what? Why don’t you be my assistant coach for the game?'” she recalled in a phone call on Wednesday morning.
She knew a bit about the league – after all, there’s been a lot of big names in it from the start and she’s plugged into the basketball world. But she said she was impressed when she walked in and saw 15,000 fans, Ice Cube, LL Cool J and some of her old friends including Rick Mahorn and Clyde Drexler.
“It’s pure basketball but you have basketball deity,” she said.
Now, Lieberman is going to have the chance to coach a BIG3 team of her own. The league announced she will coach the “Power” team, taking over for Drexler, who was named the league’s commissioner earlier this month.
“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.”
Lieberman said despite the experience of her roster, which includes Corey Maggette and Cuttino Mobley, she does intend on holding practices.
And she expects the play to be competitive – no matter how many aches and pains her players may have from decades on the court.
“No matter how much money you have, you still want to win,” she said. “We want to be the first team to 50 by 2 … that’s an honor and a privilege to be able to compete day in and day out.
“And that’s what these guys have been doing their entire lives. They’re going to beat you in cards, they’re going to beat you in dice. They’re going to beat you in whatever, it doesn’t matter if it’s tennis or golf. And now this amazing 3 on 3 league, which is changing the culture.”
She started drawing plays already while on a flight to the NBA game she was announcing in New Orleans on Tuesday.
“I’m going to put a little playbook together. And some of these plays they’ve probably run and some will be very understandable to the players. I’ll talk to the players – one of the first thing I used to do coaching was I’d go to our players and say ‘give me the one play you ran in your careers that was unstoppable’ … we want 360 communication,” she said.
“I want to know what they know and I’ll share what I know and once we get our plays that we like, we’ll refine it. And then we’ll make adjustments. And we’ll utilize the four-point shots. And we’ll make sure our guys hit their foul shots. I will not have Shaq teaching my players how to shoot their foul shots.”