Bill Laimbeer was one of the most notorious players in the NBA back in the 1980s. A vital member of the "Bad Boys" Detroit Pistons, Laimbeer was often at the front of many skirmishes or fights during his heyday. Some even thought Laimbeer was a dirty player, as he was the source of many hard fouls that were often deemed flagrant.
Aside from the physical playing style Laimbeer brought to his game, he was a solid paint presence for the Pistons during his career. He averaged a double-double in points and rebounds for six straight seasons and helped lead Detroit to back-to-back titles in 1989 and 1990. Laimbeer retired after only playing 11 games in the 1993-94 season, although he quickly found himself back involved in basketball through coaching.
Laimbeer made a name for himself in the WNBA as a head coach
Typically, retired players of Laimbeer's caliber would be highly sought-after coaches in the NBA. Instead, Laimbeer made a name for himself in the WNBA. Laimbeer became the head coach of the Detroit Shock midway through the 2002 season, and he ended up winning a title with them just one season later.
Laimbeer would lead the Shock to two more titles in 2006 and 2008. He took a brief three-year hiatus from the WNBA to be an assistant coach with the Minnesota Timberwolves before taking on stints with the New York Liberty and Las Vegas Aces.
Laimbeer had great success during his short time with the Aces, who only moved to Vegas in 2018. But Laimbeer stepped down after the 2021 season and gave way to Becky Hammon, the former San Antonio Spurs assistant. And if you ask Laimbeer, it doesn't sound like he will be coaching again anytime soon.
"I'm not ever going to coach again. I just don't have that kind of energy. I don't have that willpower. It's an all-consuming thing. Whether I participate in basketball going forward, I don't know. It's too early to tell. I just had six months off. I've never spent a summer at my farm in Michigan. So I'm looking forward to that. What the future holds, I don't really have a solid handle on right now. I'm having fun. I'm relaxed." - Bill Laimbeer, ESPN.
Laimbeer has managed to have a massive impact on both the NBA and WNBA
Through his playing and coaching career, Laimbeer has managed to have an impact unlike anyone else in basketball. Laimbeer changed what it meant to be a physical player in the NBA. His hard-nosed style angered many, but you can't argue with the results. He was able to get into his opponent's head and throw them off their game, and he was vital to Detroit's success in the 80s.
However, in the WNBA, Laimbeer may have had an even more significant impact. He took over the Shock just five years after the birth of the WNBA, and he was instrumental in helping the league get off the ground. He helped push new rule changes in the league and had a major influence in the league's free-agent structure and overall playstyle.
Laimbeer's involvement in basketball over the past few decades has undeniably made the game of basketball better. His instrumental impact as a player and a coach has helped open doors for many athletes who have come along after him. If this is the end of Laimbeer's time in basketball, he has undoubtedly made quite an impact.