The NCAA Women’s Final Four tips off tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the American Airlines Center. Basketball Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman played a role in bringing the tournament to Dallas. In our Friday Conversation, she said Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle tapped her at the last minute to pitch the city as a tournament site to the NCAA.
“I said, ‘there’s four or five cities that are vying for this,’” she said. “’They weren’t here in 1980. I was drafted by the Dallas Diamonds in 1980. Dallas, Texas was ahead of the curve and they deserve to be rewarded because they just didn’t come after the NCAA tournament when it was sexy and profitable.’”
Her pitch worked. Though she’s currently an assistant coach for the Sacramento Kings, she has a soft spot for her adopted hometown. Prior to working for the Kings, she coached the Dallas Mavericks’ D-league affiliate Texas Legends. In the early 1980s, Lieberman played for the Dallas Diamonds under the Women’s Pro Basketball League.
She’s also cracking the gender barrier in the NBA. Lieberman’s just one of two assistant female coaches in the league, but she says gender doesn’t matter to the players she’s coached.
“Players are smart,” she said. “These young guys in many cases have grown up with strong moms, dominant moms in their family. Quite frankly, if they think I can help them get to the next level, they don’t care if you’re white or black or a woman or a man.”