Bill Laimbeer

Bill Laimbeer

Laimbeer in 2007 as Detroit Shock head coach.
New York Liberty
Position Head coach
League WNBA
Personal information
Born (1957-05-19) May 19, 1957
Boston, Massachusetts
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)
Listed weight 245 lb (111 kg)
Career information
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
Playing career 1979–1993
Position Center
Number 41, 40
Coaching career 2002–present
Career history
As player:
1979–1980 Basket Brescia (Italy)
19801982 Cleveland Cavaliers
1982–1993 Detroit Pistons
As coach:
20022009 Detroit Shock
20092011 Minnesota Timberwolves (assistant)
2013–present New York Liberty
Career highlights and awards

As player:

As coach:

Career statistics
Points 13,790 (12.9 ppg)
Rebounds 10,400 (9.7 rpg)
Blocks 965 (0.9 bpg)
Stats at
Laimbeer in 1975 playing for the Palos Verdes High School.

William "Bill" Laimbeer, Jr. (born May 19, 1957) is an American retired National Basketball Association player who spent most of his career with the Detroit Pistons. Teaming with Hall of Fame backcourt guards Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars, Laimbeer won back to back NBA Championships in both 1989 and 1990. He is the current head coach of the WNBA's New York Liberty.[1] Playing at center, the 6'11" Laimbeer was a four-time NBA All-Star and integral part of the Pistons teams that won two championships. Initially raised in the Chicago, Illinois suburb of Clarendon Hills, Laimbeer attended Palos Verdes High School in Southern California and then the University of Notre Dame.

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, and New York Liberty since 2013.

Early life

Laimbeer was born and raised in the wealthy outskirts of Chicago,[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 career

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 a TV interview, teammate Isiah Thomas also talked about Laimbeer's effect on opposing players, saying, "He makes you mad," but then added, "He makes you mad...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, and his jersey number (40) was 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.

Post-NBA life

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.[6]

His father was a ranking executive with the Owens-Illinois corporation, and Laimbeer used to say (only partly tongue-in-cheek) about himself that during his career he was the only NBA player who earned less money than his father.

Bill Laimbeer won the Shooting Stars competition at the 2007 NBA 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.

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


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.[7] 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, he resigned as head coach of the Detroit Shock, due to family reasons and the desire to become an NBA head coach.[8] 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.[9]

In 2012, Laimbeer returned to the WNBA to become the head coach and general manager of the New York Liberty, replacing John Whisenant.[10] 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.[11]

On October 14, 2014, the Liberty parted ways with Laimbeer after two seasons,[12] but he was rehired as the Liberty head coach on January 8, 2015.[13]

Coaching record

Regular season G Games coached W Games won L Games lost W–L % Win-loss %
Post season PG Playoff games PW Playoff wins PL Playoff losses PW–L % Playoff win-loss %
Team Year G W L WL% Finish PG PW PL PWL% Result
DES 2002 22913.4098th in Eastern Missed Playoffs
DES 2003 34259.7351st in Eastern862.750 Won WNBA Championship
DES 2004 341717.5003rd in Eastern312.333 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
DES 2005 341618.4714th in Eastern202.000 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
DES 2006 342311.6762nd in Eastern1073.700 Won WNBA Championship
DES 2007 342410.7061st in Eastern1165.545 Lost in WNBA Finals
DES 2008 342212.6471st in Eastern972.778 Won WNBA Championship
DES 2009 413.250(resigned)
NYL 2013 341123.3245th in Eastern Missed Playoffs
NYL 2014 341519.4415th in Eastern Missed Playoffs
NYL 2015 342311.6761st in Eastern532.600 Lost in Conf. Finals
NYL 2016 342113.6181st in Eastern101.000 Lost in 2nd Round
Career 366207159.566 503020.600

See also


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