William J. Laimbeer Jr. (born May 19, 1957) is an American professional basketball coach and former player who is the head coach of the Las Vegas Aces of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA).
|Las Vegas Aces|
|Born||May 19, 1957|
|Listed height||6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)|
|Listed weight||244 lb (111 kg)|
|High school||Palos Verdes|
(Palos Verdes, California)
|College||Notre Dame (1975–1979)|
|NBA draft||1979 / Round: 3 / Pick: 65th overall|
|Selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers|
|2009–2011||Minnesota Timberwolves (assistant)|
|2013–2017||New York Liberty|
|2018–present||Las Vegas Aces|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Points||13,790 (12.9 ppg)|
|Rebounds||10,400 (9.7 rpg)|
|Assists||2,184 (2.0 apg)|
|Stats at NBA.com|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
In his National Basketball Association (NBA) career, Laimbeer was known for his 11-year tenure with the Detroit Pistons during their "Bad Boys" era. Although a solid shooter and rebounder, Laimbeer became notorious for his physical play and reputation for delivering hard, often flagrant fouls. Laimbeer played at center with Hall of Fame backcourt guards Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars and forward Dennis Rodman, winning back to back NBA Championships in 1989 and 1990 with the Pistons, and being 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.
Early life and collegeEdit
Laimbeer was born in Boston and raised in the Chicago suburb of Clarendon Hills 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. The younger Laimbeer once famously joked, "I'm the only player in the NBA who makes less money than his father."
Laimbeer played a Sleestak on the children's TV series Land of the Lost before attending Notre Dame. 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.
For college, Laimbeer attended Notre Dame where he played basketball, but he flunked out after his freshman year. To regain his eligibility, he spent two semesters at Owens Technical College in Toledo, Ohio. Laimbeer then re-entered Notre Dame. He spent two years playing for Notre Dame's basketball team. For his last two years of college, he averaged 7.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game while playing 20 minutes a game, primarily as a substitute. With the Fighting Irish, Laimbeer appeared in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament in 1978, and the Elite Eight in 1979.
Laimbeer was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1979. He played professionally in Italy for Pinti Inox Brescia, where he averaged 21.1 points and 12.5 rebounds, 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 his disdain of his opponents, his poor sportsmanship, and his dangerous play such as repeatedly committing violent intentional 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."
In the ESPN 30 for 30 film Bad Boys, Laimbeer said his approach to the game was all psychological. When the Pistons would take to the court before a game, Laimbeer made it a point to lead the rest of the team out from the locker room and he always did so with a scowl on his face to show he was not intimidated by anyone.
While a serviceable and solid player for most of his career, Laimbeer also knew there were better skilled players than he was. However, there were not as many players who were as physical on the court as he was, and Laimbeer was able to use that to his advantage. The hard-nosed approach he used was designed to wear on opposing players to the point where they began focusing more on retaliating against him and the rest of the Pistons instead of trying to win the game; Laimbeer said if he was able to do that to an opponent during the course of a game, he had broken them down. He even said the local media would play a role as his and the team's reputation preceded them: "When the Pistons came into a town, all the media would write about were the 'Bad Boys' and how rough we played. They'd be asking players if they were going to stand up to us. And once we got teams thinking like that, we had them. We already got them out of their game."
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.
Laimbeer spent 14 seasons in the NBA, mostly with the Detroit Pistons. 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 regular-season games during his first 13 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. 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."
|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|
|†||Won an NBA championship||*||Led the league|
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. 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. In 1999, Laimbeer was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.
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. 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. 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.
In 2012, Laimbeer returned to the WNBA to become the head coach and general manager of the New York Liberty, replacing John Whisenant. 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.
On October 14, 2014, the Liberty parted ways with Laimbeer after two seasons, but he was rehired as the Liberty head coach on January 8, 2015. On October 17, 2017, the then-unnamed Las Vegas Aces announced Laimbeer as head coach and President of Basketball Operations.
|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 %|
|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 Conference Semifinals|
|DES||2005||34||16||18||.471||4th in Eastern||2||0||2||.000||Lost in Conference 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|
|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 Conference Finals|
|NYL||2016||34||21||13||.618||1st in Eastern||1||0||1||.000||Lost in Second Round|
|NYL||2017||34||22||12||.647||1st in Eastern||1||0||1||.000||Lost in Second Round|
|LVA||2018||34||14||20||.412||6th in Western||—||—||—||—||Missed playoffs|
|LVA||2019||34||21||13||.618||2nd in Western||5||2||3||.400||Lost in Conference Finals|
|LVA||2020||22||18||4||.818||1st in Western||8||3||5||.375||Lost in WNBA Finals|
|LVA||2021||32||24||8||.750||1st in Western||5||2||3||.400||Lost in Conference Finals|
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 21, 2014. Retrieved February 7, 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- 30 for 30: Bad Boys, published by ESPN on April 18, 2014. Time: 7:20.
- "Philanthropists of the Year 2010 - Gulfshore Life - August 2010 - Naples, FL". Gulfshore Life. Archived from the original on October 12, 2017. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 1, 2016. Retrieved June 22, 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Episodes cast for Land of the Lost (1974)". IMDb.com. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
- "Legends profile: Bill Laimbeer". NBA.com. National Basketball Association. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
- 30 for 30 episode 64. “Bad Boys”. Premiered April 17, 2014.
- Schmitz, Brian (November 13, 1994). "THE MAGIC OF LAIMBEER: IT WAS ALL IN FUN . . . REALLY". Retrieved February 11, 2021.
- "'Sensitive' Laimbeer Mulled Retiring After Fighting Isiah". Chicago Tribune. November 21, 1993. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
- Burrows, James (September 27, 1990), Cheers Fouls Out, Ted Danson, Kirstie Alley, Rhea Perlman, retrieved December 13, 2017
- Goldman, Leslie (June 24, 2014). "In the game with Robin Roberts: Bill Laimbeer". Espn.go.com. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
- "NBA All-Star Shooting Stars Winners". NBA.com. August 24, 2017. Archived from the original on February 24, 2018.
- 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.
- "Laimbeer resigns as Shock coach". ESPN. June 15, 2009. Archived from the original on June 21, 2009. Retrieved June 15, 2009.
- "Original Old School: The Piston You Love To Hate". SLAMonline. December 11, 2010. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
- Ackert, Kristie (October 25, 2012). "Liberty tabs ex-Piston Laimbeer as new coach/GM". New York Daily News. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
- Youngblood, Kent (August 22, 2013). "Laimbeer fined for saying Moore "should get hurt"". StarTribune.com. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
- "New York Liberty part ways with Bill Laimbeer". Espn.go.com. October 16, 2014. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
- Liberty Rename Bill Laimbeer Head Coach Archived January 9, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
- "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.
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