This is a really awesome find that comes to FWIL courtesy of Tom Davis, a former assistant coach from the Houston Angels and Dallas Diamonds of the Women’s Professional Basketball League (1978-1981). Tom has shared his files for the Diamonds 1980-81 season home opener against the New Jersey Gems. Scroll to the bottom for the some fascinating downloads.
What’s special about this game is that it was the pro debut for two future members of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame – Nancy Lieberman of the Diamonds and Carol Blazejowski of the Gems. The struggling league was counting on the duo to breathe renewed life into the organization (after the similarly hyped Ann Meyers failed to do so the previous season). Although they were both just rookies, Lieberman and Blazejowski were far and away the two highest paid players in the WPBL.
Only 2,217 fans showed up at Moody Coliseum on the campus of Southern Methodist University to see the pro debut of the Diamonds’ new superstar. Perhaps they were justifiably skeptical. Dallas finished in dead last place at 7-28 the previous season without Lieberman. As the season went on, Diamonds’ crowds grew and occasionally topped 6,000.
Carol Blazejowski was the game’s high scorer, netting 24 points on 8-22 shooting from the floor, plus a perfect 8-for-8 from the stripe. Nancy Lieberman was nearly identical, pacing the Diamonds with 21 points. She was 8-20 shooting and hit 5 out of 6 from the line. Dallas took the night though, winning 102-87 thanks largely to a 34-16 run in the 2nd quarter.
The two teams would meet again in the WPBL playoff semi-finals the following spring, with Dallas coming out on top in the Best-of-3 series. The Diamonds later lost to the Nebraska Wranglers in the league championship series in April 1981. Those were the final games in the league’s short history. It folded later in 1981.
The death of the WPBL ended Carol Blazejowski’s pro career after just one season. She entered the Hall of Fame in 1994 on the strength of her legendary amateur career. Nancy Lieberman continued to find places to play sporadically through the 1980’s and 1990’s, including a brief and ill-fated revival of the Dallas Diamonds in 1984, a stint in the men’s United States Basketball League in the mid-1980’s and finally a valedictory appearance in the first year of the WNBA in 1997 as the league’s oldest player at age 39. By that time, “Lady Magic” was already a Hall-of-Famer, having joined Blazejowski there in the 1996 induction class.
Diamonds coach Tom Davis squirreled away the official scorer’s reports, line-up cards and press releases from this game some 30+ years ago. You can view and download them all here…