Saturday, November 21, 2009

Lieberman to coach guys

The first woman to play pro basketball with guys is also the first hired to coach them.

Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman was introduced Thursday as the head coach of the Dallas Mavericks' affiliate in the NBA Development League, which will tip off next November.

The D-League team is partially owned by Donnie Nelson, the Mavericks' president of basketball operations. Hiring Lieberman was his idea, and he's confident young men won't have a problem taking orders from a woman — at least, not this woman.

"She's got the skins, the experience — she knows what she's doing — so I certainly hope that we're well beyond those issues," Nelson said. "Besides, if you can't respect authority, no matter what form or color it comes in, I don't want you on my team."

Lieberman has been a basketball pioneer since she was 17 and made the U.S. Olympic team for the first women's tournament, at the 1976 Montreal Games. She starred at Old Dominion and in various women's pro leagues, then in 1986 played for the Springfield Fame of the United States Basketball League. When the WNBA started, she returned as a player, and later was a coach and general manager. She returned briefly as a player in July 2008, at age 50.

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