Every American knows who Magic Johnson, but diehard hoops fans also know “Lady Magic” aka Nancy Lieberman. The Queens, New York-born point guard began playing hoops on the rough and tumble public playgrounds of The Big Apple.
She later became an inaugural member of USA Women’s Olympic basketball in 1976, then a WNBA star and much sought-after tactician for the NBA.
New York hoops playground queen?
The Queens-born Lieberman used to take the train all the way up to Harlem’s Rucker Park, just to play basketball.
Lieberman said at first the local boys just wondered what “a little white Jewish girl” was doing taking the train by herself to the hotbed of street hoops in the late 1960s and early ’70s. But after a while, the locals took her in as one of their own—and that’s where she developed the talent and edge that would help her become and Olympian and top talent.
Lieberman talks Lakers and winning
“Winning is hard,” Lieberman says, “and that’s why so few do it.” She says the black community took her in and pushed her to be great on the court. And top players like Pat Summit and Ann Meyers rallied her further.
The longtime point guard and coach to WNBA, NBA and BIG3 basketball teams also says a championship Lakers team is good for the game, but that team owner and exec Jeanie Buss deserves credit for steering LeBron, AD and Lakers back to NBA titles.