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Medal record
Women's Basketball
Pan American Games
Gold 1975 Mexico Team Competition
Olympic Games
Silver 1976 Montreal Team Competition
Pan American Games
Silver 1979 Puerto Rico Team Competition

Nancy Elizabeth Lieberman (born July 1, 1958[1], in Brooklyn, New York), nicknamed "Lady Magic"[2], is a former professional basketball player who played and coached in the WNBA[3][4].

Lieberman is regarded as one of the greatest figures in women's basketball[5][6].

In 2000, she was inducted into the Nassau County Sports Hall of Fame. Lieberman is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame[7], the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame[8] and the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame[9].


Early years

While attending Far Rockaway High School in Queens, New York, she established herself as one of the top women's basketball players in the country by earning one of only 12 slots on the USA's National Team. In 1975, Lieberman was named to the USA Team designated to play in the World Championships and Pan American Games, where she brought home a gold medal [10] and a silver medal in 1979[11].

Lieberman's mother, Renee, was not supportive of her daughter's passion for basketball. During one instance when Lieberman was practicing dribbling techniques indoors, because it was cold outside, her mother demanded she stop dribbling because of all the noise. When she did not stop, her mother punctured the basketball with a screwdriver. Lieberman found another ball and continued, but her mother punctured that one as well. This continued until five balls were ruined, Nancy then decided she had better go outside before she ran out of basketballs.[12]

At age 17, Lieberman was named to the 1976 USA Women's Olympic Basketball Team[13], which she would compete at the Montreal Games in the first-ever Women's Olympic Basketball Team Competition[14]. Shortly after turning 18, Lieberman became the youngest basketball player in Olympic history to win a medal as the United States captured the Silver Medal.[15]

College years

From 1976 to 1980, Lieberman attended Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, and played on the women's basketball team there[16]. During that time, she and her team won two consecutive AIAW National Championships (1979, 1980)[17] and one NWIT (Women's National Invitation Tournament) Championship in 1978. She was the first two-time winner of the prestigious Wade Trophy[18], a national "player of the year" award in college women's basketball, and was selected as the Broderick Award winner for basketball as the top women's player in America[19]. Lieberman also won three consecutive Kodak All-America awards (1978, '79, '80)[20]. Lieberman was one of six young adults to win the Young American Award from the Boy Scouts of America in 1980[21].

Lieberman earned the nickname "Lady Magic," a nod to Earvin "Magic" Johnson of NBA fame.[22] Lieberman set a school record for career assists (961) that still stands today. She led the team in assists each of the four years she was on the team—in her sophomore year she averaged 8.9 per game.[23] Lieberman amassed 2,430 points along with 1,167 rebounds in her collegiate career, producing a per game average of 18.1 points per game.[23]

Lieberman achieved a triple double (40 points, 15 rebounds, 11 assists) against Norfolk State in her sophomore year.[23] She is the holder of several single-game and single-season records, including best free-throw shooting percentage in her freshman and sophomore years.[23]

Lieberman earned her degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Old Dominion University on May 6, 2000.[24] She was inducted into the ODU Sports Hall of Fame in 1985.[25]

Professional career

In 1980, Lieberman earned a slot on the 1980 Olympic team, but withdrew from the squad in support of U.S. President Jimmy Carter's boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow[26].

In the 1980s, she dropped out of college to embark on a professional career in basketball. She played for several basketball teams and leagues, including the Dallas Diamonds of the Women's Pro Basketball League (WBL)[27], a men's league called the United States Basketball League (USBL)[28], and also with the Washington Generals[29], who served as the regular opponent of the Harlem Globetrotters. One of her teammates with the Generals was Tim Cline whom she married in 1988[30]. They subsequently divorced March 15, 2001[31].

Lieberman was a contestant on the season 4 Gold Medal Challenge of Champions special of American Gladiators, being eliminated after the 3rd event having the lowest score of the three female competitors.

Lieberman's WBL career is featured in the book "Mad Seasons: The Story of the First Women's Professional Basketball League, 1978-1981," by Karra Porter (University of Nebraska Press, 2006).

She was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame[32] as a player in 1996 and to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame[33] in 1999.

In the newly-formed WNBA's inaugural year in 1997, Lieberman played for the Phoenix Mercury. At the age of 39, she was the WNBA's oldest player in history.

In 1998, she was hired as General Manager and Head Coach of the WNBA's Detroit Shock. She coached for three seasons but left after accusations, by unnamed players, of a sexual affair with rookie point guard Anna DeForge.[34] After leaving the Shock, Lieberman worked as a women's basketball analyst on ESPN.

On July 24, 2008, at 50 years old, Lieberman signed a seven-day contract with the Detroit Shock[35], breaking her own previous record (39) as the oldest player in league history. She played one game and had two assists and two turnovers against the Houston Comets. The Comets defeated the Shock 79-61.

On August 13, 2008, she was part of the inaugural class to be inducted into the Hampton Roads Sports Hall of Fame, honoring athletes, coaches and administrators who made contributions to sports in Southeastern Virginia.

On November 4, 2009, reported that Lieberman had been hired to coach the NBA Development League affiliate of the Dallas Mavericks. She is the first female to serve as a head coach in the D-League.

See also


  1. ^ "Nancy Lieberman". Retrieved 2009-07-06.  
  2. ^ Nancy Lieberman - Dubbed "lady Magic" - Famous Sports Stars
  3. ^ "Media Guide". pp. 12. Retrieved 2009-07-12.  
  4. ^ "Nancy Lieberman/ Basketball". Retrieved 2009-07-12.  
  5. ^ "Nancy Lieberman". Retrieved 2009-07-12.  
  6. ^ Woolum p 177
  7. ^ "Hall of Fame Feature". Retrieved 2009-07-06.  
  8. ^ "Nancy Lieberman". Retrieved 2009-07-06.  
  9. ^ "Class of 1992". Retrieved 2009-07-06.  
  10. ^ "SEVENTH PAN AMERICAN GAMES -- 1975". Retrieved 2009-07-06.  
  11. ^ "EIGHTH PAN AMERICAN GAMES -- 1979". Retrieved 2009-07-06.  
  12. ^ Grundy p 171
  13. ^ "Games of the XXIst Olympiad -- 1976". Retrieved 2009-07-06.  
  14. ^ "Games of the XXIst Olympiad -- 1976". Retrieved 2009-07-06.  
  15. ^ Nancy Lieberman - HowStuffWorks
  16. ^ "Media Guide". pp. 9. Retrieved 2009-07-06.  
  17. ^ "Lieberman Inducted Into HR Hall". Retrieved 2009-07-06.  
  18. ^ "History of The State Farm Wade Trophy". Retrieved 2009-07-06.  
  19. ^ "Honda-Broderick Cup". Retrieved 2009-07-06.  
  20. ^ "Kodak All-Americans 1975-2007". Retrieved 2009-07-06.  
  21. ^ "Recipients of the Young American Award". Retrieved 2009-07-06.  
  22. ^ Grundy p 175
  23. ^ a b c d "Lieberman To Be Inducted Into Hampton Roads Sports Hall Of Fame". Retrieved 2009-07-26.  
  24. ^ "Old Dominion: Lieberman To Be Inducted Into Hampton Roads Sports Hall Of Fame". ESPN. Retrieved 2009-07-29.  
  25. ^ "Old Dominion University Hall of Fame Members". Old Dominion University. Retrieved 2009-07-29.  
  26. ^ "History of the WBL Third Season". Retrieved 2009-07-12.  
  27. ^ "Dallas Diamonds (1979-81)". Retrieved 2009-07-12.  
  28. ^ "Mixing It Up With The Guys". Retrieved 2009-07-12.  
  29. ^ "Lieberman, Nancy". Retrieved 2009-07-12.  
  30. ^ "Nancy Lieberman-Cline". Retrieved 2009-07-12.  
  31. ^ "An uncomfortable history lesson". Retrieved 2009-07-12.  
  32. ^ "Hall of Fame Feature". Retrieved 2009-07-06.  
  33. ^ "Nancy Lieberman". Retrieved 2009-07-06.  
  34. ^ Sports Illustrated - A growing number of coach are falling in love with—
  35. ^ "2008 WNBA Transactions". Retrieved 2009-07-12.  


  • Grundy, Pamela (2005). Shattering the glass. New Press. ISBN 978-1565848221.  
  • Woolum, Janet (June 5, 1998). Outstanding women athletes (2 Sub edition ed.). Oryx Press. ISBN 978-1573561204.  

External links

Preceded by
Carol Blazejowski
Wade Trophy winner
1980 and 1981
Succeeded by
Lynette Woodard
Preceded by
Initial Coach
Detroit Shock Head Coach
Succeeded by
Greg Williams


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