When the farm team of the Dallas Mavericks was in a start-up this past year, co-owner Donnie Nelson was looking for ways to stand out in the Dallas/Frisco Texas market. The Texas Legends began play in the NBDL this season in Frisco, a suburb of Dallas, about 30 miles north and previously known primarily as the home of the MLS Cup runner-up FC Dallas.
So, as Nelson was building his team he was also looking for ways to differentiate the Legends. What better way to do that than hire a woman as your coach? Who better to be that woman than a legend in the game and a woman who has never backed down from any basketball challenge, including playing with and against men, both in organized ball and, even more impressively, on the New York playgrounds? Enter Nancy Lieberman, Lieberman, a member of the Hall of Fame had a spectacular playing career, winning two national championships at Old Dominion, a silver medal at the Olympics and a professional championship. Playing with men? Throughout the 80s she played on the Lakers' and Jazz's summer league teams, played two years in the long defunct USBL and even toured with the Globetrotters for a time, playing on the Washington Generals and reliving in some ways her childhood at Harlem's Rucker Park.
When the WNBA rolled around, she played and coached in it. Then, she went to work for ESPN, but when Donnie Nelson offered her a job coaching the Legends the lure was too strong to resist. She took the job and by all accounts has been accepted for what she is - the coach of a team in the D League, albeit one who hugs her players and tells them that she loves them.
Here's an interview with Cheryl Miller where Nancy discusses coaching the Legends:
Cross-posted to SportsBiz.