Saturday, October 31, 2009

Basketball Star Nancy Lieberman Challenges Obama to a Game

In an open letter to the President, Basketball Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman challenges President Obama to a game -- a game which would tell the nation that, um, women can too play basketball with the men. Because Lady Magic knows that abolishing sexist stereotypes and gender segregation is change we women are waiting for.

Let me be frank. Some women are saying you need a time-out. Your men-only basketball games have been scrutinized—and criticized for consistently leaving women out.Your defenders call that charge ridiculous, saying everyone knows that women can play golf with men, but not basketball...which of course only annoys women more. Well, I have a solution. To score some real points with the public, stop arguing and just play ball—with the best. Shoot some hoops with yours truly.

That’s right. Today I am declaring myself eligible for the presidential pickup games. Please allow me to present my credentials. I am no stranger to being on court with the boys. In high school and college, I played pickup with guys at Harlem’s Rucker courts and also played in summer leagues with NBA stars from the L.A. Lakers and the Utah Jazz (and I’m still pals with those teams’ then-coaches, Pat Riley and Frank Layden). I was also the first and only female player in the all-male United States Basketball League. I’ve played against the most famous team in the world, the Harlem Globetrotters. I'm fortunate to have been an Olympic silver medalist in women's basketball, and honored to be a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Plus, your right-hand man Reggie Love, the former college basketball star who plays in your games, can vouch for my reputation as a former college player who still has serious skills.

And here’s your PR bonus: Everyone at the Basketball Hall of Fame, the Women's Sports Foundation, the WNBA and the NBA would have smiles on their faces, because it’s always good for sports when new barriers are broken.

I would be honored to get on the court with you, Mr. President, not just to play but also to help you make change. It's what I've done my whole life as a woman in sports and it's what you've done your whole life as a politician and now as our Commander in Chief.

Warmest regards to you, the First Lady and your daughters. If invited to play at the White House, I solemnly vow to protect, preserve and defend the basketball until my team wins. Let me know if I've got a game.

Sincerely, Nancy Lieberman
Basketball Hall of Famer, ESPN Analyst

via USA Today

"Nancy Lieberman was the first high school student, male or female, to make a U.S. Olympic basketball team, the first woman to play in a men's professional league, and the first woman to tour with the Washington Generals (foils for the Harlem Globetrotters)."

“Most men I talk to say, ‘What’s the big deal? So a guy can’t play basketball?’ But many, many serious thinking women say, ‘Let’s call this for what it is: This is a networking opportunity. This is a political event.”

[Thanks Zee!]