The decline and fall of the first women's pro basketball league hasn't slowed down Nancy Lieberman one bit. Having collected her $100,000 salary from the WBL's Dallas Diamonds, the former No. 1 draft choice is off and running in new directions.
The player fans call ''Lady Magic'' has just finished second to fellow basketball star Ann Meyers in the Women's Superstars competition. This week she's in New York promoting her new instructional book, ''Basketball My Way,'' and watching Martina Navratilova, whom she has helped with her training, in the Avon Tennis Championships.
Reached by phone in Manhattan, Lieberman was perhaps most excited to talk about her pet project - a new women's pro league. The concept has no ties to the old WBL and will be called the Women's National Basketball Association.
''The season will fit right into the sports lull that occurs after the Super Bowl and will be just three weeks long,'' she says of the project modeled after Team Tennis, a made-over step child of World Team Tennis in California. Larry King, Billie Jean's husband and the mastermind of Team Tennis, is helping put together the basketball circuit.
''The beauty of this league will be that it's an event,'' Lieberman explained. ''Sponsors won't have to worry about putting up the money for a year-round operation, and instead of salaries, players will be paid using a prize money system. Whichever team comes in first makes $40,000. That's split evenly among eight players, with additional money distributed for individual production in various categories such as scoring, rebounding, assists, plus selection as an all-star.''
To start, there will be only four franchises in Dallas, Houston, Iowa, and Chicago because as Nancy says, ''You have to crawl before you walk.'' The 12 -game season can be fitted into a vacation, thus attracting players leery of quitting full-time jobs.
Once the league's off the ground, all Lieberman wants to do is play, flashing the aggressive style that brought her national attention in leading Old Dominion to the 1979 and 1980 national championships.