PUBLISHED September 6, 2011 | News
Then: Basketball icon. Nicknamed “Lady Magic” during her playing days. Two-time Olympian. Three-time All-American, two-time national champion and two-time national player of the year at Old Dominion. Became the first woman to play in a men’s professional league. Played for the Phoenix Mercury in 1997, the WNBA’s inaugural year. Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996. In 2009, became the first woman to coach a professional men’s basketball team with the Texas Legends of the NBA Development League.
Now: Texas Legends assistant general manager. Promoting her new business book, “Playbook for Success: A Hall of Famer’s Business Tactics for Teamwork and Leadership.”
Question: What was your motivation for writing the book?
Answer: The motivation started along time ago. You have a lifetime of experiences and memories of friendships and business relationships. A long time ago, I was talking to Warren Buffett and he started talking to me about legacies. A legacy is a measure of what you leave behind for others. To be a woman in the places I’ve been . . . it’s hard to believe the friendships and kindness of people that have been given to me. I look back and I was a poor kid from a one-parent family in New York. We were getting our heat and electric turned off. But when I was 8, I told my brother that I wasn’t going to be like mom. Basketball is going to be something for me. Who says that as an 8-year-old girl in the ’60s?
Fast forward to when I was 10 and I saw Muhammad Ali on TV, saying he was the true champion of the world and the world’s greatest of all time. As long as you have faith in you and believe in yourself, you don’t have to worry about what people think you should be. He became my eyes and vision. Who ever thought that my hero and mentor at 10, I would meet at 21 and become lifelong friends with? There are also so many situations about growing and teaching and strategies and leadership in the book. Women, by and large, never had a playbook to follow.
Q: The book’s audience became much wider than just women, right?
A: My book was for corporate women and teaching them how to play together, how to be successful together, and how to build and sustain their confidence. But I’ve had as many men read my book as women. The NBA gave my book to the players during their rookie orientation. Players have read my book and told me they loved it. Business people, too. It has really taken my breath away. I’m proud of the work. I believed it’s not mine to have. It’s mine to share.
Q: Talk about how the Mercury have grown as an organization.
A: Diana Taurasi is going to go down as one of the all time greats who have ever played this game. And I’m really proud of her and of what she’s done and how she’s handled herself. She continues to get better all the time. She’s really a gift to he game. I’m proud to see what Ann (Meyers Drysdale) has done with the organization. They are champions. And there is no better place than in Phoenix to be a champion.
Q: Do you still have a home in Phoenix?
A: Yes, I have a home downtown. I come out here about 5-6 times a year. I come out to watch the Mercury play. I dig it. I have a lot of ties to the organization, to the community, to Muhammad, to (Alvin Gentry, who was driving Lieberman from Sky Harbor Airport while Lieberman was on the phone with The Republic). It’s been very special.
Q: Do you still run camps in Dallas, Detroit and Phoenix?
A: I still have the camps. I just finished my 29th year in Dallas, six weeks of camp and I still teach every session of every camp. I’m there all day. I have my camp in Detroit then I come back out here. We’re setting dates for the fall camp (in Phoenix). As long as I’m around children, I want to help and serve. That’s what I really want to do. To carry on Muhammad’s visions of serving people. I want people to remember the woman I am today rather than the basketball player I was.
Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/sports/mercury/articles/2011/09/06/20110906nancy-lieberman-wnba-nbdl-basketball.html#ixzz4I572wcpI