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‘We looked at her like she was just a part of history’ — Dallas Wings honor ‘trailblazer’ Nancy Lieberman

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PUBLISHED June 12, 2017 | News

ARLINGTON — The Wings honored Nancy Lieberman during halftime of their 91-74 loss Sunday to Minnesota. Lieberman was presented with a framed No. 10 jersey and was showered with video tributes, including one from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for the Hall of Fame point guard.

But describing Lieberman merely as a “Hall of Fame point guard” isn’t really doing her justice. Each person asked about Lieberman’s contribution to women’s basketball describes her as a trailblazer.

The Brooklyn native was a three-time All-American at Old Dominion, where she earned the nickname “Lady Magic” for her flashy style of play. She was as a member of the silver-medal winning United States team in 1976 for the first Olympic women’s basketball tournament

Lieberman began her professional career in Dallas, playing three seasons with the WBL’s Diamonds without much of the attention paid to today’s WNBA athletes.

“There wasn’t any glory. There wasn’t any TV sponsorships. It was doing it because you loved it,” Wings assistant Taj McWilliams-Franklin said. “Because of what they did, we’re able to stand here and play in this game and be on TV and get paid money to play this sport.”

Lieberman came out of her decade-long retirement to be a part of the WNBA’s inaugural season in 1996. She suited up with the Phoenix Mercury, next to current Wings assistant Bridget Pettis.

“Even then, we looked at her like she was just a part of history,” Pettis recalled.

Since then, Lieberman’s legacy has been cemented even as she continues to add to it. In 2000, the NCAA began awarding the Nancy Lieberman Award to the country’s best point guard. In 2009 she was named the head coach of the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate, the Texas Legends, becoming the first woman to coach a men’s professional team.

She now is an assistant for the Sacramento Kings.

“She’s just inspiring a lot of people to know that there’s no door that can’t open to us,” Pettis said.

And she still finds time for her foundation, Nancy Lieberman Charities, and to provide a player’s perspective to WNBA president Lisa Borders, who was in attendance.

“I’ve been in Dallas for 37 years,” Lieberman told the crowd. “For [the Wings] to take this time, this day, to bestow this honor, I’m so grateful.”