Shock sign 50-year-old Lieberman to seven-day contract

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The Detroit Shock came up with a way to distract some attention away from their skirmish earlier this week.

For one game at least.

The Shock signed 50-year-old Nancy Lieberman, a Hall of Famer and one of their former coaches, to a seven-day contract on Thursday. She played 9:14 seconds in the Shock's 79-61 loss to the Houston Comets on Thursday night. Lieberman was 0-for-1 from the floor with two assists and two turnovers.

"It's really a one-game deal," Lieberman said in a telephone interview. "My motivation stems from the fact that I love this game and I never stopped playing it whether it's a pickup game with Deion Sanders and Tony Romo at a church or at a park with my son."

She became the oldest player in WNBA history at 39 while playing for the Phoenix Mercury in 1997, the league's inaugural season.

Shock coach Bill Laimbeer says Lieberman, an ESPN analyst, was impressive during drills during last year's WNBA All-Star Game.

"This is not a gimmick," Laimbeer insisted. "I talked to her last year about this and again two weeks ago. This opportunity probably would've happened if we didn't have the incident the other night."

A spot opened up for Lieberman when standout forward Cheryl Ford suffered a season-ending knee injury Tuesday night when the Shock, assistant coach Rick Mahorn and the Los Angeles Sparks were involved in a skirmish.

Lieberman was the general manager and coach of the Shock from 1998-2000. During her professional playing career, she averaged 15.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 6.1 assists.

She played at Old Dominion University from 1976-80, helping the school win two national titles, and was a member of the U.S. Olympic teams in 1976 and 1980.

Lieberman was the first woman to play professionally with men as part of the USBL's Springfield Fame in 1986.

She was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996 and the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame three years later.