Bill Laimbeer was known as one of basketball's "Bad Boys,'' but he's been good at turning struggling teams around. Now he has a chance to do just that with the Liberty.
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Laimbeer, a former Detroit Pistons center who went on to coach three WNBA championship teams, has been named the Liberty's general manager and coach, the team announced Thursday in a news release. The team also announced the departure of former head coach and general manager John Whisenant.
The Liberty is coming off its third straight playoff appearance but finished with a 15-19 record this past season. Whisenant was 34-34 in two seasons with the Liberty.
Laimbeer won the 2003 WNBA Coach of the Year award in his first full season with the Detroit Shock (now the Tulsa Shock). He turned around a team that went 9-23 in 2002 and led the Shock to a league-high 25 wins en route to the WNBA championship. The 16-win turnaround remains the largest in WNBA history.
"We're excited to have Bill Laimbeer join the New York Liberty as our general manager and head coach," said Knicks assistant GM Allan Houston, who also oversees Liberty basketball operations. "He has brought his winning pedigree and passion to the WNBA and I believe he will play a large role in bringing a championship to the Liberty."
Laimbeer, who has a career coaching record of 137-93, also won titles with the Shock in 2006 and 2008 and guided the team to six straight playoff appearances. He resigned in 2009 and later became an assistant coach with the NBA's Timberwolves.
"I am very excited to return to the WNBA, and for the opportunity to join the New York Liberty," Laimbeer said in the release. "I missed the competitive fire of players like Cappie Pondexter and Plenette Pierson, two hard-nosed competitors for the Liberty."
Laimbeer played for the Detroit Pistons' "Bad Boys" championship teams in 1989 and 1990. The four-time All-Star had 13,790 points and 10,400 rebounds in a 14-year career.
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