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Nancy Lieberman: ‘Rucker Park saved my life’

PUBLISHED August 23, 2017 | News

Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman reflects on her basketball journey that started at famous Rucker Park and was boosted by Muhammad Ali

Nancy Lieberman is widely considered the best female basketball player of all-time. Lieberman learned the game playing against the boys at famed Rucker Park, which recently had its 50 year anniversary that Lieberman attended. The park will always hold a special place in her heart.

“Rucker Park saved my life. It was safe place and nobody profiled me or made fun of me. They knew I was white by the way,” Lieberman chuckled. “They knew I was a girl, but all that mattered was street cred and if you could play. Those guys took me under their wings and I’m not doing this interview without them. They changed my life.”

Lieberman is currently an assistant coach with the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. San Antonio’s Becky Hammon is the only other woman who is an assistant in the league. The NBA will in all likelihood have a woman as a head coach someday, but Lieberman is not focused on when or it being her.

“I’m just happy that the Kings gave me an opportunity,” Lieberman said. “I look forward to more women getting an opportunity in the NBA and I’m proud of Becky and what she is done. We are not in a race and in time it will happen. It might not be me, which is ok. I have had such an amazing life. I could have been a victim to my circumstances growing up in New York, but instead I’m a victor. There is no reason for me to ever flinch when somebody says ‘well what happens if you are not the first woman head coach?‘ No worries.”

Lieberman is also working with the The National Basketball Retired Players Association. Their mission to provide a host of programs, services and benefits designed to help basketball players and their families successfully navigate life after the game.