Many years ago, back when I still had hair, I did a morning radio show here in town. Shout out to everyone who remembers Early Merge With Tim & Yvonne, all four of you. Our run lasted just two years, from 1999 to 2001, but in that brief time we broadcast a few moments I’ll never forget. There was the time, live on the air, a leopard from the Fort Worth Zoo attacked a macaw (the bird survived). There was the time I interviewed Debbie Gibson and confused her with Tiffany (Weezer made the same mistake, so I don’t feel that bad). And then there was the time I thought it would be a good idea to play 1-on-1 with Nancy Lieberman, aka Lady Magic.
She had a basketball camp to promote, so she agreed to play me in front of about 50 girls who idolized her. They all stopped their camp activities and sat on the court a few feet behind the 3-point line. Rich Phillips, now the voice of SMU football, recorded the play-by-play. Lieberman would have been about 40 years old. I was 10 years her junior and 2 inches taller. And just like that, in a game to 10 by 1s, I was up 5-0 on one of the best basketball players ever to walk the planet.
This was something I hadn’t anticipated: how it would feel to dominate Lieberman on a basketball court (super cool) and simultaneously disappoint 50 girls who loved her (total jerk). I understood that I couldn’t win, but I also knew that I wasn’t going to throw the game and let Lieberman beat me, because, first, that would be an insult to a world-class athlete, and, second, I’m a total jerk.
Right as I was working this calculus, Lieberman did something amazing. With the ball and her back to the basket, she spun baseline and used her elbow to hook me like a rag doll, blowing past me and making an easy layup. If these basketball terms confuse you, just know that she used an illegal move and did it beautifully. I knew then that she had actually spotted me those 5 points. I can proudly say these many years later that Nancy Lieberman handed me my shorts in front of 50 screaming girls. I think I managed just one more point before she scored 10.
All of which is to say that I’m happy to get even with Lieberman by publishing this picture of her in Kathy Wise’s profile of the Dallas Diamonds, which you should read. Lieberman was the first pick in the 1980-1981 draft of the Women’s Basketball league. Listen to MLB Hall of Famer Eric Nadel call a game right below.
As for Nancy: never play 1-on-1 with someone who buys ink by the barrel.