New York, November 12, 2013 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman dreamed of becoming the best basketball player in the world as a young New Yorker, honing her skills and love of the game on the court at P.S. 104 in Brooklyn. And this past weekend Lieberman was in Long Beach, New York unveiling a new basketball court that she hopes will be the source of inspiration for a new generation of players.
I was a poor kid from a one parent family growing up in New York and it was hard at times, not having the advantages that others had, but sports was a great equalizer, Lieberman told WNBA.com after she and fellow New Yorker comedian/actor Billy Crystal partnered in announcing the opening of the DreamCourt in Long Beach.
And sports taught me self-esteem and teamwork and confidence, and playing on the court at P.S. 104 in Brooklyn and other courts in Brooklyn and Queens and around the city was a safe haven for me and a place where I could grow. And now that Im blessed and in a position where I can contribute and help, thats why Im dedicated to trying provide a safe environment for kids today to make friendships and learn about teamwork and responsibility and the benefits of hard work.
Through her personal foundation and her partner World Ventures, Lieberman has built and opened DreamCourts across the country, from Frisco and Austin Texas, to Denver, Nashville and Minneapolis and now New York. The goal of the DreamCourt progam is to build high-quality basketball courts for children living in underprivileged communities and in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, building a court in Long Beach as part of the recovery efforts was a worthy goal.
If I had my way, wed have DreamCourts in every city, but we are off to a good start and were working, said Lieberman. The game of basketball has been so good to me, that I am honored to be in a place where I can help give back and help kids to grow where they can do the same.
Lieberman is a true pioneer of the game, earning the moniker of Lady Magic while leading Old Dominion University to consecutive AIAW National Championships in 1979 and 1980 and a NIT crown in 1978, in addition to medaling with Team USA in the Pan Am Games (1975) and the Montreal Olympics (1976). She later competed professionally in the WBL, the USBL before competing with the Phoenix Mercury in the inaugural season of the WNBA in 1997 at the age of 39, then the older player in league history.
Liebermans achievements didnt end upon her retirement as a player as she later served as Head Coach/GM of the WNBAs Detroit Shock for three season. She later became the first women to coach a professional mens team when she took the helm of the NBA D-Leagues Texas Legends in 2009. Currently Lieberman is an analyst for Fox Sports coverage of the NBAs Oklahoma Thunder. Despite this impressive list of achievements, Lieberman is most proud of the work of her charitable Lieberman Foundation, including the DreamCourt program.
You could take all the points I scored and assists, all the records, medals and championships won, and awards received and it doesnt even come close to the impact of helping kids, said Lieberman. Dont get me wrong, Im proud of my achievements on the court, and the fact that young girls and boys may have seen or heard of me playing, or Anne Myers or Cheryl Miller or any of the other great players, and that we were role models is a great thing and Im very proud of that. And we, athletes, we are role models, whether we like it or not. I take that very seriously. "
"And I love it that the current players in the WNBA are getting more exposure. There are not only girls, but boys, and even some of the guys I talk with in the NBA, our brothers, who watch players like Diana Taurasi or Elena Delle Donne and they say, Wow, I want to play like Taurasi, or Look at that, I want to play like Delle Donne, and that is tremendous. But thats where ultimately it all comes together and its about giving back.