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William Laimbeer Jr. (born May 19, 1957) is an American former basketball player and current coach of the Las Vegas Aces in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA).[1]

Bill Laimbeer
Laimbeer 2007.jpg
Laimbeer in 2007 as Detroit Shock head coach.
Las Vegas Aces
PositionHead coach / General Manager
LeagueWNBA
Personal information
Born (1957-05-19) May 19, 1957 (age 62)
Boston, Massachusetts
NationalityAmerican
Listed height6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)
Listed weight245 lb (111 kg)
Career information
High schoolPalos Verdes
(Palos Verdes, California)
CollegeNotre Dame (1975–1979)
NBA draft1979 / Round: 3 / Pick: 65th overall
Selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers
Playing career1979–1993
PositionCenter
Number41, 40
Coaching career2002–present
Career history
As player:
1979–1980Basket Brescia Leonessa
19801982Cleveland Cavaliers
19821993Detroit Pistons
As coach:
20022009Detroit Shock
20092011Minnesota Timberwolves (assistant)
20132017New York Liberty
2018–presentLas Vegas Aces
Career highlights and awards
As player:

As coach:

Career statistics
Points13,790 (12.9 ppg)
Rebounds10,400 (9.7 rpg)
Blocks965 (0.9 bpg)
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com

During his National Basketball Association (NBA) career, he was known for his 11-year tenure with the Detroit Pistons. Laimbeer played at center with Hall of Fame backcourt guards Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars and small forward Dennis Rodman. He won back to back NBA Championships in 1989 and 1990 with the Pistons, and was named an NBA All-Star four times. Prior to the NBA, he played for the University of Notre Dame and Palos Verdes High School in Southern California.

After his playing career, Laimbeer served as the head coach and general manager of the Detroit Shock in the WNBA from 2002 to 2009, coaching the team to three league championships in 2003, 2006, and 2008. He was the head coach of the New York Liberty from 2013 to 2017, and has been the head coach of the Las Vegas Aces since 2018. He has twice been named the WNBA's Coach of the Year.

Contents

Early lifeEdit

 
Laimbeer in 1975 playing for the Palos Verdes High School.

Laimbeer was born in Boston and raised in the wealthy Chicago suburb of Clarendon Hills,[2] before moving with his family to Palos Verdes Estates, California. His father William Laimbeer Sr. was an Owens-Illinois executive who rose as high as company president.[3] The younger Laimbeer once famously joked, "I'm the only player in the NBA who makes less money than his father."[4]

Laimbeer played a Sleestak on the children's TV series Land of the Lost before attending Notre Dame.[5] He was a Palos Verdes High School student, and the Land of the Lost show solicited their basketball team for tall people to play Sleestaks.

Playing careerEdit

Laimbeer was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1979. He played professionally in Italy for a year before returning to play for the Cavaliers in 1980. On February 16, 1982, he was traded to the Detroit Pistons, where he would remain for the rest of his career. During his playing career, Laimbeer was one of the most notorious players in the NBA. While highly popular among Piston fans, Laimbeer was despised by opposing players and fans for committing hard fouls. In the public eye, Laimbeer's reputation for physical play tended to overshadow his skills. His former teammate Dennis Rodman noted this in his book Bad As I Wanna Be, saying, "[Laimbeer] was more than a thug, but that's what he'll be remembered for." In an interview for the 1990 NBA Home Video release "Pure Pistons," teammate Isiah Thomas also talked about Laimbeer's effect on opposing players, saying, "He frustrates people," but then added, "He frustrates people...because he's good."

Laimbeer was one of the top outside-shooting centers of his era, draining over 200 three-pointers for his career, and excelled at running the pick and pop with guards Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars. Then-head coach Chuck Daly utilized Laimbeer's inside-outside skills to great effect. On the defensive end, Laimbeer was one of the best rebounders in the game. On the offensive end, Daly would often have Laimbeer fade to the perimeter rather than roll to the basket, which had the additional effect of keeping the opposing team's best rebounder far from the backboard. Laimbeer was selected to the NBA All-Star Game on four occasions (1983, 1984, 1985 and 1987) and finished among the league leaders in rebounding and free throw percentage several times, winning the rebound title in the 1985-86 season. Laimbeer started on the Pistons' 1989 and 1990 NBA championship teams.

Bill Laimbeer and his Detroit teammates are the only players to have a playoff winning record against NBA legends Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan.

Altogether, Laimbeer spent 14 seasons in the NBA, 12 of them with Detroit. Laimbeer became the 19th player in league history to amass more than 10,000 points and 10,000 rebounds. Laimbeer was most effective off the defensive glass: from 1982 to 1990 no player in the league totaled more defensive rebounds. He was also remarkably durable, never playing fewer than 79 games in his 14 seasons, and playing all 82 games on seven occasions. His streak of 685 consecutive games played (which ended due to suspension in the 1988-89 season) is the fifth longest in league history. Laimbeer retired early in the 1993-94 season at age 36 after an incident in practice with longtime friend Isiah Thomas that led to Thomas breaking his hand. Laimbeer, upset over the fight as well as worried over the reaction of Pistons fans for injuring their team captain, decided to retire, believing the fight with Isiah was his "downfall". He announced his retirement after a private closed doors meeting with Thomas and head coach Don Chaney that ended with him and Thomas teary-eyed and remaining best friends.[6] Laimbeer had his jersey number (40) retired by the Pistons in February 1995. He remains the franchise's all-time leader in career rebounds.

Laimbeer's reputation as one of the Pistons' "Bad Boys" was such that in 1991 he even came to endorse a video game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System called Bill Laimbeer's Combat Basketball, a futuristic basketball game in which physical play is encouraged. In addition, during a cameo in the ninth season of Cheers, Kevin McHale of the rival Celtics remarked, when presented with the X-Ray of an adult male gorilla's ankle, "...could be Laimbeer."[7]

NBA career statisticsEdit

Legend
  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
Denotes seasons in which Laimbeer won an NBA championship
* Led the league

Regular seasonEdit

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
1980–81 Cleveland 81 0 30.4 .503 .765 8.6 2.7 0.7 1.0 9.8
1981–82 Cleveland 50 4 17.9 .470 .500 .775 5.5 0.9 0.4 0.6 6.7
1981–82 Detroit 30 30 31.2 .516 .143 .813 11.3 1.8 0.6 1.1 12.8
1982–83 Detroit 82 82 35.0 .497 .154 .790 12.1 3.2 0.6 1.4 13.6
1983–84 Detroit 82 82 34.9 .530 .000 .866 12.2 1.8 0.6 1.0 17.3
1984–85 Detroit 82 82 35.3 .506 .222 .797 12.4 1.9 0.8 0.9 17.5
1985–86 Detroit 82 82 35.3 .492 .286 .834 13.1 1.8 0.7 0.8 16.6
1986–87 Detroit 82 82 34.8 .501 .286 .894 11.6 1.8 0.9 0.8 15.4
1987–88 Detroit 82 82 35.3 .493 .333 .874 10.1 2.4 0.8 1.0 13.5
1988–89 Detroit 81 81 32.6 .499 .349 .840 9.6 2.2 0.6 1.2 13.7
1989–90 Detroit 81 81 33.0 .484 .361 .854 9.6 2.1 0.7 1.0 12.1
1990–91 Detroit 82 81 32.5 .478 .296 .837 9.0 1.9 0.5 0.7 11.0
1991–92 Detroit 81 46 27.6 .470 .376 .893 5.6 2.0 0.6 0.7 9.7
1992–93 Detroit 79 41 24.5 .509 .370 .894 5.3 1.6 0.6 0.5 8.7
1993–94 Detroit 11 5 22.5 .522 .333 .846 5.1 1.3 0.5 0.4 9.9
Career 1,068 861 31.8 .498 .326 .837 9.7 2.0 0.7 0.9 12.9
All-Star 4 0 11.3 .650 .667 2.8 0.5 0.5 0.5 7.0

PlayoffsEdit

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
1984 Detroit 5 0 33.0 .569 .900 12.4 2.4 0.8 0.6 15.2
1985 Detroit 9 9 36.1 .449 .000 .706 10.7 1.7 0.8 0.8 14.7
1986 Detroit 4 4 42.0 .500 1.000 .913 14.0 0.3 0.5 0.8 22.5
1987 Detroit 15 15 36.2 .515 .200 .625 10.4 2.5 1.0 0.8 12.3
1988 Detroit 23 23 33.9 .456 .294 .889 9.6 1.9 0.8 0.8 11.9
1989 Detroit 17 17 29.2 .465 .357 .806 8.2 1.8 0.4 0.5 10.1
1990 Detroit 20 20 33.4 .457 .349 .862 10.6 1.4 1.2 0.9 11.1
1991 Detroit 15 15 29.7 .446 .294 .871 8.1 1.3 0.3 0.8 10.9
1992 Detroit 5 4 29.0 .370 .200 1.000 6.6 1.6 0.8 0.2 8.2
Career 113 107 33.1 .468 .321 .819 9.7 1.7 0.7 0.7 12.0

Post-NBA lifeEdit

In 1994, Laimbeer and his father William Sr. co-founded Laimbeer Packaging Corp., a company located in Melvindale, Michigan, a Detroit suburb, producing corrugated cardboard boxes. The company struggled through the late 1990s and closed in early 2002.[8] Laimbeer won the NBA Shooting Stars Competition at the 2007 All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas along with Chauncey Billups of the Detroit Pistons and Swin Cash of the Detroit Shock. In February 2009 he won the competition with Arron Afflalo and Katie Smith.[9] In 1999, Laimbeer was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.

Laimbeer is a former color commentator for the Pistons and was a studio analyst for ESPN in 2003.

CoachingEdit

In the middle of the 2002 WNBA season, Laimbeer took over the head coaching position for the Detroit Shock. A year later, he led the franchise to its first WNBA championship and was named Coach of the Year that year. It marked the first time in WNBA history that a team other than Los Angeles or Houston won the title. On September 9, 2006, Laimbeer led the Shock to their second WNBA championship against the Sacramento Monarchs in five games. Two years later, on October 5, 2008, Laimbeer led the team to its third league championship in six years by defeating San Antonio.

Laimbeer has talked about the possibility of one day coaching in the NBA. The New York Knicks' former team president, former Piston teammate Isiah Thomas, once considered Laimbeer as a possibility.[10] The Pistons, presided by former teammate Joe Dumars, had considered the possibility of Laimbeer replacing departing coach Larry Brown, before ultimately hiring former Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Flip Saunders.

On June 15, 2009, Laimbeer resigned as head coach of the Detroit Shock, due to family reasons and the desire to become an NBA head coach.[11] Though he was unable to secure an NBA head coaching position, that same year Laimbeer was offered, and accepted, an assistant coach position with the Minnesota Timberwolves.[12]

In 2012, Laimbeer returned to the WNBA to become the head coach and general manager of the New York Liberty, replacing John Whisenant.[13] He quickly returned to his pugnacious ways, drawing a fine for saying Minnesota Lynx player Maya Moore "should get hurt" for playing late into a game in which the Lynx easily defeated the Liberty.[14]

On October 14, 2014, the Liberty parted ways with Laimbeer after two seasons,[15] but he was rehired as the Liberty head coach on January 8, 2015.[16] On October 17, 2017, the then-unnamed Las Vegas Aces announced Laimbeer as head coach and President of Basketball Operations.[17]

Coaching recordEdit

Legend
Regular season G Games coached W Games won L Games lost W–L % Win–loss %
Playoffs PG Playoff games PW Playoff wins PL Playoff losses PW–L % Playoff win–loss %
Team Year G W L W–L% Finish PG PW PL PW–L% Result
DES 2002 22 9 13 .409 8th in Eastern Missed Playoffs
DES 2003 34 25 9 .735 1st in Eastern 8 6 2 .750 Won WNBA Championship
DES 2004 34 17 17 .500 3rd in Eastern 3 1 2 .333 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
DES 2005 34 16 18 .471 4th in Eastern 2 0 2 .000 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
DES 2006 34 23 11 .676 2nd in Eastern 10 7 3 .700 Won WNBA Championship
DES 2007 34 24 10 .706 1st in Eastern 11 6 5 .545 Lost in WNBA Finals
DES 2008 34 22 12 .647 1st in Eastern 9 7 2 .778 Won WNBA Championship
DES 2009 4 1 3 .250 (resigned)
NYL 2013 34 11 23 .324 5th in Eastern Missed Playoffs
NYL 2014 34 15 19 .441 5th in Eastern Missed Playoffs
NYL 2015 34 23 11 .676 1st in Eastern 5 3 2 .600 Lost in Conf. Finals
NYL 2016 34 21 13 .618 1st in Eastern 1 0 1 .000 Lost in 2nd Round
NYL 2017 34 22 12 .647 1st in Eastern 1 0 1 .000 Lost in 2nd Round
LVA 2018 34 14 20 .412 6th in Western 0 0 0 Did not qualify
Career 434 243 191 .560 50 30 20 .600

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 21, 2014. Retrieved February 7, 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ 30 for 30: Bad Boys, published by ESPN on April 18, 2014. Time: 7:20.
  3. ^ "Philanthropists of the Year 2010 - Gulfshore Life - August 2010 - Naples, FL". Gulfshore Life. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 1, 2016. Retrieved June 22, 2016.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "Episodes cast for Land of the Lost (1974)". IMDb.com. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
  6. ^ "`Sensitive' Laimbeer Mulled Retiring After Fighting Isiah". Chicago Tribune. November 21, 1993. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  7. ^ Burrows, James (September 27, 1990), Cheers Fouls Out, Ted Danson, Kirstie Alley, Rhea Perlman, retrieved December 13, 2017
  8. ^ Goldman, Leslie (June 24, 2014). "In the game with Robin Roberts: Bill Laimbeer". Espn.go.com. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
  9. ^ "NBA All-Star Shooting Stars Winners". NBA.com. August 24, 2017. Archived from the original on February 24, 2018.
  10. ^ Ian O'Connor (November 6, 2010). "Isiah Thomas itching for encore with New York Knicks - ESPN New York". Sports.espn.go.com. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  11. ^ "Laimbeer resigns as Shock coach". ESPN. June 15, 2009. Archived from the original on June 21, 2009. Retrieved June 15, 2009.
  12. ^ "Original Old School: The Piston You Love To Hate". SLAMonline. December 11, 2010. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
  13. ^ Ackert, Kristie (October 25, 2012). "Liberty tabs ex-Piston Laimbeer as new coach/GM". New York Daily News. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
  14. ^ Youngblood, Kent (August 22, 2013). "Laimbeer fined for saying Moore "should get hurt"". StarTribune.com. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
  15. ^ "New York Liberty part ways with Bill Laimbeer". Espn.go.com. October 16, 2014. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
  16. ^ Liberty Rename Bill Laimbeer Head Coach Archived January 9, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "WNBA Announces Relocation of San Antonio Stars to Las Vegas - WNBA.com - Official Site of the WNBA". WNBA.com - Official Site of the WNBA. Retrieved October 17, 2017.

External linksEdit