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Nancy Lieberman

Played In Men's League

Drafted in 1980 by the Dallas Diamonds of the Women's Professional Basketball League (WBL), Lieberman left college before completing her degree. She could not compete in the 1980 Olympics because of President Carter's boycott over the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. Instead, she helped guide the Diamonds to the 1981 championship series, where they lost to the Nebraska Wranglers. After leaving basketball briefly to serve as a personal trainer to tennis star Martina Navratilova, Lieberman in 1984 returned to the Diamonds, now part of the new Women's American Basketball Association (WABA). Averaging 27 points per game and voted the league's Most Valuable Player, Lieberman helped lead the Diamonds to a 1984 WABA championship. Both the WBL and the WABA eventually folded, however.

Lieberman made history in 1986 when she became the first woman to play in a men's professional league. Drafted by the Springfield Fame of the United States Basketball League (USBL), she took her place in her first men's team. In 1987 she switched to the USBL's Long Island Knights, and in 1988 she joined the Washington Generals, where she met her future husband, teammate Tim Cline. The couple's career with the Generals included a world tour with the Harlem Globetrotters. Regarding her USBL experience, Lieberman said at her Hall of Fame induction: "They should put the bench I sat on in the Hall of Fame because I saw more time there."

Lieberman retired from basketball in the early 1990s after two disappointments. For the first time in her career, she was cut from a team, failing to qualify for the 1990 Goodwill Games. Nor did she qualify for the 1992 Olympics. Yet Lieberman had begun a new career as a sports commentator and writer. At the 1988 and 1992 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea and Barcelona, Spain, respectively, she served as an NBC-TV women's basketball commentator. She had also completed her autobiography, Lady Magic.

In 1993 Lieberman became the first woman ever inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame. The following year she gave birth to her son, Timothy Joseph, Jr., or "T.J." On May 6, 1996, she was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.

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Famous Sports StarsBasketballNancy Lieberman Biography - Dubbed "lady Magic", Chronology, Played In Men's League, Made Brief Comeback