Greg Williams has an unmatched history as a women’s basketball coach. He helmed teams in the first U.S. women’s league, the WBL. He coached in the second such circuit, the WABA. And he was a head coach in the WNBA, too. He also ran D-1 college programs, most recently at Rice. He coached the Owls, where he earned All-Southwest Conference honors as a player, for 10 seasons before retiring in 2015.
We talked to Williams at a library near his Ft. Collins, Colorado house. For this interview, I wanted to ask Williams about a specific game, which, remarkably, he still remembered. His Dallas Diamonds played an exhibition contest prior to the 1980-81 season at what was then known as the Tarrant County Convention Center. As basketball fans living in Fort Worth at the time, my father and I attended the game (I still have a program from it).
As Williams details in the interview, a team like the Diamonds had to work all angles to promote itself, and, led by its star, Nancy Lieberman, they did. The Diamonds topped the league in attendance, but unfortunately the rest of the teams couldn’t hold up their end and the WBL folded following that season. Williams’s squad made it to the final where they lost to the Nebraska Wranglers.
Fort Worth has seen a number of minor league franchises come through its convention center area. The Fort Worth Fire, Cavalry, Brahmas, and Flyers all met similar fates in the challenging world of sports outside of the four major U.S. leagues. For those of us who were both Fort Worthians and sports fans, it was a treat to be able to see pro sports, at least for a while, in our hometown. It was great that Williams remembered his part in it even better than I did.