Lieberman, Nancy Elizabeth

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LIEBERMAN, NANCY ELIZABETH ("Fire," "The Lieb," "Lady Magic"; 1958– ), pioneer in women's amateur and professional basketball and greatest female star of her generation; youngest basketball player male or female to win an Olympic medal, first woman to play in a men's professional basketball league; member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. Born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised by her mother, Renee, in Far Rockaway, Long Island, after her parents divorced when she was 14, Lieberman started receiving national attention as a high school star at Far Rockaway High School in Queens, n.y. At 17 she won a gold medal at the 1975 Pan American Games, and at 18 she won the silver medal at the Montreal Olympics. Lieberman played on the women's basketball team at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, from 1976 to 1980, helping the Lady Monarchs to an astounding 72–2 record during their back-to-back championship seasons in 1979 and 1980. Lieberman was a two-time winner of the Wade Trophy as College Player of the Year, and received the Broderick Cup as the nation's top female athlete in 1980. Lieberman also won three consecutive Kodak All-America awards (1978–80). She played for several basketball teams and leagues, including the Dallas Diamonds of the Women's Pro Basketball League (wbl), the men's United States Basketball League (usbl), the Washington Generals – the regular opponent of the Harlem Globe-trotters – and the Women's National Basketball Association (wnba), before being named general manager and head coach of the WNBA's Detroit Shock for three seasons, and then head coach of the Dallas Fury, guiding the team to a championship in 2004. In 1993, Lieberman was the first woman inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame, and was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996, and to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999. Sports Illustrated named Lieberman the 44th greatest female athlete of the 20th century. Lieberman, who identifies herself as a born-again Christian, wrote an autobiography, Lady Magic: The Nancy Lieberman Story (1991), and co-authored Basketball for Women (2000) with Robin Roberts.

[Elli Wohlgelernter (2nd ed.)]