Age Is Just A Number: Nancy Lieberman Plays At 50

Jeremy KaufmanSenior Analyst IJuly 27, 2008

This week, after the fallout of a massive WNBA brawl between the Shock and the Sparks, the Shock was left shorthanded a bunch of players. Now, I am not normally one to take any interest in the WNBA. However, what happened next is something that I believe any sports fan can appreciate.


In an effort to shore up their roster until all suspensions were ended, the Shock signed the now 50-year-old Nancy Lieberman to a 7-day contract. That’s right, 50 years old.


It’s a rarity to see anyone in any professional sport play at an age even close to that number, so seeing Nancy Lieberman take the hard court was certainly an oddity.


Furthermore, Nancy is already in the Hall of Fame as a player, and has had an extensive career as both a head coach and general manager as well. So in essence, this move was the WNBA equivalent of signing Larry Brown as a player! It’s simply incomprehensible within the realm of pro sports.


What makes this story even more interesting is that Nancy Lieberman is regarded by many to be the greatest female basketball player in history. In fact, Nancy is the only female basketball player to ever play professionally in a men’s league, the now defunct United States Basketball League.


In this respect, bringing Nancy Lieberman out of retirement was a relative equivalent to the Chicago Bulls bringing Michael Jordan out of retirement on a 7-day contract.


In her first, and possibly her only game with her new team, Nancy didn’t score any points, had two assists and two turnovers in nine minutes. Long story short, she wasn’t very good, but hey, could you do any better at 50?