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Myth: Bill Laimbeer should coach the Detroit Pistons

Welcome to Myth Week at PistonPowered. This is the second in a five-part series of posts addressing what we see as myths involving the Detroit Pistons.

Bill Laimbeer is a tough subject for me.

I firmly believe he is one of the most underrated players of his era who, because of his reputation as an instigator (and punching bag of Robert Parrish), never gets the credit he deserves for how much he contributed to those Pistons back-to-back title teams. He was a great rebounder, great defender, great passing big man, nearly flawless fundamentals and obviously had great range as well as a solid post-up game. He’s basically the prototype for how all big men with limited athleticism should aspire to play.

I also hate everything he represents to most Detroit fans. I hate that the extracurricular stuff — his surly attitude, his cheap shots, his dirty little tricks — have made him a cult hero in this state and overshadowed the nuances of his game. He’s one of those athletes we have here — think Brandon Inge or Darren McCarty — who a segment of fans defend so vociferously, whose contributions they constantly skew and overrate and whose glaring deficiencies they constantly gloss over or flat out ignore.

I don’t hate Laimbeer at all, far from it, but the unflinching love he gets for basically being an asshole is tiresome. And what’s really tiresome is those ardent defenders — most of whom I would guess are nothing more than casual NBA fans — would love nothing more than to see Laimbeer coaching the Detroit Pistons.

Bill Laimbeer as head coach of the Pistons would likely be a disaster.

Can he handle the X’s and O’s?

Bill Laimbeer won three championships as coach of the Detroit Shock. I can’t and won’t argue with the results. What I will argue is that Laimbeer didn’t have to do anything special to win with the Detroit Shock. Maybe another coach wouldn’t have won as many titles or produced the exact same results, but that team, with its talent, was going to win a lot of games regardless of who was coaching.

His Shock teams were not the 2003-04 Detroit Pistons — a bunch of hard-working, tough, overachievers. The Shock were definitely tough and hard-working, but they also had as much (or more) talent than any team in the league from their first title team onward until Laimbeer stepped down as coach to pursue NBA opportunities. The names are probably not familiar to people who don’t have at least a casual interest in the WNBA, but rest assured, they are talented. I’ll roll out some WNBA/NBA comparisons to help make the point:

Katie Smith, who was on the last two title teams, has made more three-pointers than anyone in WNBA history and is the league’s third all-time leading scorer. Think of her as, oh, I don’t know, Ray Allen.

Swin Cash, a team captain for six years, was a top 10 scorer multiple times, a multiple time All-Star and a winner — she won two national titles at UConn in college, played for a title team in Detroit and currently has her Seattle Storm in the WNBA Finals. We’ll call her Manu Ginobili.

Deanna Nolan was one of the best all-around players in the W her entire career. She was on all three title teams in Detroit, she can score, she defends, she’s tough and she’s a leader. Let’s say she’s a bit like Chauncey Billups — a big, strong hybrid guard who can score, distribute and defend.

Cheryl Ford, also a member of all three title teams, averaged a double-double three of her seven years in the league. Two other seasons, she was just tenths of a point or rebound from doing it. She’s a strong interior presence, a great rebounder and helped make Detroit’s front line one of the toughest in the league. Think of her as Al Horford.

Sprinkle in a cast of great role players along the way like Plenette Pierson, Alexis Hornbuckle, Ruth Riley and Elaine Powell, to name a few, and coaches didn’t have to do much but roll out the balls (ahem … basketballs) to get that team to have some success.

This isn’t to say that Laimbeer or the coaches were bad coaches or didn’t do anything to help the team improve — as I said above, he was one of the most fundamentally sound players in the NBA. He knows how to coach defense, knows how to preach intensity and competitiveness and knows how to play winning basketball. But as far as getting this team to perform on the court? He didn’t have to do much because there was a hierarchy in place where the team leaders and stars policed things, and if you don’t believe me, look what happened when the team moved to Tulsa.

Nolan, Smith and Ford elected not to play in Tulsa. Holdovers included Pierson, Kara Braxton, Hornbuckle and Shavontae Zellous, all key players in Detroit. New coach Nolan Richardson runs a defensive oriented system just like Laimbeer did. And minus Nolan and Smith, the unquestioned leaders in Detroit, the team was a colossal flop, the remaining players had their flaws exposed without stars around to take pressure off and draw the defense’s attention and all of them were eventually traded.

There were certainly other factors at play, but I tend to think the impact of coaches is a bit overrated when they win and underrated when they lose (except for Michael Curry … he sucked in every way). The Shock won titles first and foremost because they had several great players and a couple legit franchise cornerstones.

But it wasn’t like Laimbeer was an unquestioned genius as a coach. Check this out, published on Detroit Bad Boys, during the 2007 WNBA Finals:

That was one of the worst coached basketball games I’ve ever seen in my life. From poor adjustments, poor play calling and poor shot clock management it was hard to believe this was a finals game. There were several long stretches where neither team scored and yet watching the game you really couldn’t attribute it to tough defense. The Shock played tough, kept the game close and forced Phoenix out of their rhythm and still lost which has got to be slightly demoralizing.

In fact, if you read the whole series of DBB posts on that summer’s finals, there seemed to be plenty of questions about Laimbeer’s schemes, his rotation (more on that in a minute) and his ability to control his team. He obviously won in Detroit. His teams were obviously among the best in the NBA. But to act as if the team didn’t have major issues or questions at times is revisionist history.

Can he deal with today’s stars?

Laimbeer, as a major local star, had a large say over personnel as coach of the Shock. He was able to bring in players that fit what he wanted to do and able to get rid of players he didn’t think fit, he didn’t like or he openly clashed with. He did a good job of this — as I said, the Shock were one of the most talented, complete teams in the W.

As an NBA coach, he would not likely have this luxury though. Coaches, even successful and well-known ones, are not true stars in the NBA, even if they are famous. If Kobe Bryant walked into Lakers owner Jerry Buss’s office tomorrow and said, "I won’t play for Phil Jackson," Jackson would most likely not be coaching the Lakers. Not that it would happen, but if Tim Duncan suddenly believed Gregg Popovich was holding the Spurs back and wanted him gone, he could force the Spurs hand. That’s a reality of NBA coaching — hell, even faux star players (Penny Hardaway?) have helped push coaches out the door in the NBA. To a large extent, NBA coaches who take jobs don’t have a large say over their personnel. Re-working or building a roster in the WNBA is much different and Laimbeer had much more freedom to create a team in his mold.

Getting along with the top players on a team is vital, and based on his time in Detroit, there are legit questions as to whether Laimbeer can make due with players whose personalities clash with his. His relationship with former Shock player Swin Cash rapidly deteriorated.

This was Cash in profile in the New York Times before the 2007 season:

“If you don’t know Bill, you think he’s the biggest jerk walking,” Cash said. “I can see past it all. He played. He knows the game. He’s competitive and he wants to win. He’ll go to war with you every day.”

Smiling, Cash added: “I like him. Do I think he’s dysfunctional? Yes. But is he a heck of a coach? Yes.”

By the 2007 Finals, that relationship was damaged beyond repair. Cash was traded after the season and had this to say:

"When a coach loses their respect for you, and treats you the way he did me … it’s tough to deal with. … I can deal with a coach attacking me to make me better, but I cannot deal with someone attacking my character, or my integrity. That was the hardest part for me."

What did she consider attacking her integrity and character? Well, this was part of the problem (from the Seattle Times):

A June 2007 article in The New York Times quoted Shock coach Bill Laimbeer and assistant coach Rick Mahorn referring to her as a "crackhead" and "crack."

Laimbeer blamed the media and said he was joking:

"With the ‘crack’ comment, it was playful. It was, I think, until it got in the media. Then it became an issue."

Joking or not, Cash was obviously offended:

"If a man said that or called your daughter that, how would you feel? It became a public thing," Cash said. "When that happens, you not only offend me, you offend my family and people who know me. That comment doesn’t go with me, and that’s why it became that big of an issue."

An argument over calling someone a ‘crackhead’ is kind of silly, but it does show a lack of understanding that this particular star player might be more sensitive than others Laimbeer deals with, so perhaps he should’ve tread more carefully. Other insults, however, cut more deeply. Namely, according to Cash, Laimbeer behind closed doors questioned Cash’s heart and whether or not she was washed up as a player while she was battling back from a serious injury. Her final season in Detroit, he cut her minutes to 22 per game and the most prominent incident in the deterioration of their relationship occurred when he gave her a DNP-CD in game four of the finals.

And to be clear, Laimbeer got it wrong on this one: Cash is still a very productive WNBA player who (as of writing this) has helped the Storm to a 1-0 series lead in the WNBA Finals against Atlanta.

Cash is not a player with a reputation of being a malcontent. She’s not a player who has a history of not doing what it takes to win. She’s won everywhere she’s played and, if the Storm win this series, she’ll add a third WNBA title to her collection as a prominent player on all three and the best player on two of the three title teams.

The Shock still won without Cash, and Laimbeer and the remaining players deserve credit for that, but Laimbeer absolutely mismanaged his relationship with Cash and that would not end well for him had it been as a NBA coach with a star NBA player. And more importantly, while Laimbeer had the luxury of simply trading Cash when he didn’t want to be bothered with her for good value (fourth pick in the draft), he won’t have that same freedom in the NBA. The coach is the more disposable asset, and even if the star gets traded, it usually doesn’t bring close to equal value in return.

Maybe he knows that there is a difference between what a WNBA coach can get away with players and what a NBA coach can. But I don’t think we should just assume that he knows this.

Can he be a franchise face?

The alternative to having star players is having a team of pretty good under-the-radar players, kind of like the 2003-04 Pistons. So why not bring Laimbeer in as coach and assemble a team in that mode, with no stars?

The problem, then, is that Laimbeer becomes the face of the franchise. To his adoring fans, that’s wonderful news. People in Michigan love him and the style of basketball he represents. But it’s not so great from the team perspective, and once again I point to the Shock as evidence.

The WNBA is a mixed bag of colossal franchise flops financially and franchises that understand their fanbase, market their team extremely well and have stars who are giving of their time and committed to working hard off the court, promoting their league and team, as well as on it. These teams (Seattle and Los Angeles are good examples) develop a following that allows the individual franchise to flourish even if the overall financial success of the league is a constant source of debate.

The WNBA failed in Detroit, and it did so despite having arguably the most success of any WNBA franchise and two people involved who were major stars in their market in Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn. On-court success and two beloved people in prominent roles within the organization should’ve led to at least marginal financial success for the Shock. So where did the team fail?

As a NBA player, Laimbeer was not only known for not being all that accessible, but he was sometimes downright annoyed by having to deal with the media. Honestly, I don’t blame him — who wants the hassle? He’s a basketball guy, I’m sure he just wanted to play/coach basketball and leave the other exterior stuff to others. But in the WNBA, a league where it’s a necessity to plead and beg to get any press, that is a recipe for disaster. In Detroit, with his beloved reputation, I firmly believe that had Laimbeer went above and beyond to promote the team, to talk to the media and encourage his players to do the same, the Shock would still be around. If Laimbeer was easily accessible, the Detroit media would’ve written/covered that team extensively, not because people are especially interested in the WNBA, but because people are very, very interested in Laimbeer.

But we’re talking about a NBA job, right? Laimbeer would be the biggest star on the team if the Pistons hired him. The roster is not that good right now. Having a star like Laimbeer as the coach would ultimately help generate interest in the team, but it would require the cooperation of Laimbeer to actually make the appearances and do the interviews. The non-basketball demands on him and his time would be magnified and increased. Based on his history as a player and a coach, I don’t know if that’s a responsibility he would embrace, and I don’t say that as a criticism — again, I very much respect people who just want to focus on the game rather than the business/promotional aspects that go along with being in the league. But the NBA is a very image and PR-conscious league, and Laimbeer would be expected to meet those demands whether he wanted to or not.

Why am I so harsh on a Detroit icon?

As I said, I have great respect for Laimbeer as a player. And I don’t even think he’s bad as a coach, I just think he’s a coach who hasn’t shown the flexibility to deal with many different styles of play and players. It doesn’t mean he’s not capable of it, it just means there’s evidence to suggest he has a strong view of how the game should be played which requires personnel that buy into it.

If he’s going to coach in the NBA, where coaches can’t get away with regularly demeaning and calling out their players constantly, I think he’s much better suited as an assistant. In fact, until David Kahn gave away Al Jefferson, Laimbeer was a perfect choice to help tutor Jefferson and Kevin Love, two big men who aren’t elite athletically but have great skillsets that Laimbeer could help develop.

I care about legacy. Being a head coach in Detroit would be bad for Laimbeer’s legacy, because he would get fired. I don’t know how long he’d last. And given the right roster (i.e. not the current roster), he might even find a mix of players he could have success with. But there’s a good chance that things wouldn’t end well (see: Trammell, Alan). What I dislike is the assumption that just because Laimbeer was a tough player who is beloved by fans that he’d naturally make a good coach. Even with titles in the WNBA, he hasn’t proven enough as a coach, motivator or understander of the modern player to deserve that assumption.

Previous myths

46 Comments

  • Sep 15, 201012:39 am
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    You didn’t mention that Bill Lambier in addition to rebounding, playing great (and always underrated) post defense, set some consistently nasty screens and also threw the best outlet pass in the NBA.

    When i watched the Shock play (and i must admit to very limited viewing), i always thought they had a style or pattern on offense and a commitment to transition defense along with a solid defensive scheme  in the half court. I did not watch enough to judge individual game management – but hey – even if he had talent, he still won a couple of titles so his situation coaching must not have been all that bad. You don’t win a title in any sport if your coach cannot coach (the Lions coach should be fired for never stretching the field on offense in that game against the Bears).

    As for his ability to handle the egos in a locker room – i remember when he and Issaih met Mark Aquirre at the airport, took him to dinner, and explained how things were going to work in Detroit. Aquirre was never a problem or a prima donna with Detroit. Would it work if Laimbeer tried to handle  these young NBA players the same way? Probably not?  

  • Sep 15, 201012:57 am
    by Keri Laimbeer

    Reply

    Althought i respect your opinion and the fact that this IS an opinion piece – I’d have to say its flawed in many areas. Its disturbing to know that someone can write a piece although it is just YOUR piece  (clearly not a PUBLISHED piece)that has so many fictions, portraying as fact.
    It is true that my dad is not everyone’s favorite person. That comes with the territory that he stepped in when he decided that his role on the Pistons would be that it was. Love him or hate him, he accepted his role and he performed to a T.
    Your opinion is based on his coaching ability, so I will try to focus my attention on that part of your piece. Your opinion about his “X & O” are clearly based on someone who did not spend time watching him coach or really understand what his team accomplished. He is a BRILLIANT X & O coach. Ask anyone with a basketball background, or someone who has coached him, played with him, or was coached BY him. Being his daughter, I spend MANY nights up with him in highschool reviewing tapes of upcoming teams and games that were just played. He could see what was going to happen before it happened and it was EVIDENT in the record of his team when he coached. There were many times when he would come up with a play on the fly in a 30 second time out (see the 1st championship Deana Nolan’s shot in the corner last minute of the game). Your opinion is yours so it is respected, but it is wrong.
    Regarding his players:
    Katie Smith – what you fail to mention is that he negotiated the trade of Katie to the Shock from Minnesota where she played he whole career for basically NOTHING. His ability to GM a team in the league was 2nd to none. You also failed to mention the 15 lbs he demanded she lose so that she could fit the role of point guard for the Shock instead of shooting guard as she played her whole life. (her performance speaks for itself)
    Swin Cash – yes, she is a FANTASTIC player. She deserves all the credit in the world. However, you were not privy to the behind the scenes involving her time with the Shock (and i will not make that information public) so you do not understand the dynamics of his coaching of her.
    Cheryl Ford – a strong physical player who THRIVED in the Shock’s system. a GREAT PLAYER who had a great system to play in.
    His players were brought into Detroit BY HIM. He knew what would work and he made it happen. Hes OFTEN accredited with changing the way the league was played and the way it was coached/GMed because the league had to keep up with his examples.
    The 2007 finals were a complete disaster. As the head of the team, he took blame for its collapse – never disclosing the real reasons that the season ended the way it did. (in the WNBA Finals going for a back-to-back) I suppose if its not a championship, its a failure.
    I wont even comment on your OPINION of the Swin situation. I am in NO position to comment on it nor would I ever. But my only advice would be to not believe everything you read and to understand that the league is a business -  with ALL parties attempting to have their “brand” shown in the best light possible. No winners or losers in that situation.
    The NBA/WNBA is a players league. No coach is or should be the face of the franchise. They do not sell tickets and they do not win games..its a PLAYERS game. To blame the demise of the Shock on him is pure foolishness. The Shock hold the WNBA attendance record for their finals appearances. He was open and approachable to ALL the WNBA fans. He understood his role in the league and he at times became the leagues ‘dog and pony’ show as they flaunted him around to various appearances and events which he was OPEN to doing. PLEASE do not undermind the work he put into helping the league survive. The WNBA is a money pit. No team makes a profit. It is the sole decision of the owner to decide the fate of a franchise and with all the “changes” and talk about the Pistons and their future… I believe the blame for the team moving belongs on another woman’s shoulders. IMO.
    Your opinion is your opinion. Do I believe that he will make a great head coach? ABSOLUTELY. is it because I am his daughter? NO. it is because I know, just like his players, his former coaches and former teammates know what he has the capability to do. he will eventually get his shot and I hope then you are singing another tune.
    With respect,
    Keri Laimbeer
     

  • Sep 15, 20102:12 am
    by Ryan Mathews

    Reply

    “I also hate everything he represents to most Detroit fans. I hate that the extracurricular stuff — his surly attitude, his cheap shots, his dirty little tricks and yes, his whiteness — have made him a cult hero in this state and overshadowed the nuances of his game.”
    Excuse me?  Bill Laimbeer’s ethnicity has nothing to do with his popularity in the state of Michigan, and to say it does is pretty narrow-minded of you to do. His style of play embodied what the working-class in this state appreciate and have prided themselves since the first car rolled off the assembly line. For what he didn’t have in talent, he made up for with hard work, something you made apparent. However, is it not reasonable to think people are naturally drawn to the players who work hard because that is the nature of sport; to recognize those who are outworking others? Sure, I can understand that his tenacious style of play is a cause for remembrance, but I don’t know how his ethnicity has ANYTHING to do with it.
    By the way, didn’t you just write an article about how disappointing it was to see that Laimbeer made the NBA Jam rosters?
    “But unfortunately, from a Pistons fan perspective, the old version left a lot to be desired. Nothing against Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer — I loved both of them as players. But NBA Jam was all about the flash, and Laimb and Zeke just didn’t scream “flash” with their games.”
    Zeke was all that kind of “flash” considering he was one of the fastest players in the game, and what was more fun in that game – aside from Mullin being able to hit 20-25 three-pointers a game -  than Laimbeer throwing elbows to clear out for a long-range shot?

  • Sep 15, 201010:01 am
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @Ms. Laimbeer:

    Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. As you said, this was an opinion piece. And unfortunately, you’re right, I didn’t cover the Shock on a day-to-day basis, so I don’t know what happened behind the scenes with Cash. Just wanted to clear up some points:

    - As I said in the intro, Laimbeer is one of the most underrated players in NBA history. And you’re right, he played his role beautifully with the Pistons. I don’t have a problem with the way he played. I have a problem with how fans remember him — he’s beloved by a lot of people because they liked that he got under people’s skin or was an irritant or because he was hated in opposing arenas. That stuff overshadows his greatness as a player and the things he brought to the court, and as someone who loves basketball, his high IQ and skill level as a player are what I want him to be remembered for.

    - You’re absolutely right re: Swin Cash. I didn’t cover the team or see behind the scenes stuff. That goes without saying. What I know is what was written at the time, and the reputation that Cash currently has as a great leader and winner. Her quotes at the time suggest she had deep resentment towards what happened to her in Detroit during that final season.

    She could be the one who deserves the blame for that, I don’t know. But what I do know is that NBA head coaches, particularly ones in the first head coaching job, cannot simply remove a star player from the team that poses a personality conflict and get great value in return. Cash was traded for the fourth pick in the draft, that’s really good value. Look at what teams have received in the NBA when they’ve traded stars who were clashing with the coach or team — Toronto got nothing for Vince Carter, Philly didn’t get much for Iverson, the Nuggets are in a tough situation with Carmelo Anthony b/c it’s unlikely they’ll get an offer that will come close to replacing his on-court production. And in a lot of cases, the coach is the one to go first. Philadelphia fired two coaches before they finally decided to trade Iverson.

    Am I saying the Cash situation means Laimbeer flat-out can’t deal with today’s NBA star? No. But it was a fairly high profile conflict with a player that became a big story (by WNBA standards), and if a conflict like that happened with a NBA player, it would be covered way more intensely (and annoyingly) and it wouldn’t end with the team being quietly able to ship the player off for a top five pick that became a really productive player (Hornbuckle).

    - Re: the “dog and pony show” comment. I think that’s the nature of the beast in the W. It’s still a league struggling for viability. I think anyone who signs up, particularly someone who has a big name, should be expected to be trotted out to lame PR event after lame PR event. I think the Shock have done that with Nolan Richardson, also a big name, this season.

    I disagree that the WNBA is a players’ league. Maybe within the WNBA circle it is, but the league has been desperately trying to grow its fanbase for some time, and you don’t grow your fanbase by heavily marketing Kara Braxton or something. You do it by heavily marketing people like Laimbeer and Mahorn, who were legit stars on their own.

    As you said, this is an opinion piece. And as I said in my conclusion, I could be wrong. Even if I do believe that Laimbeer wouldn’t be the best head coaching candidate, I fully admit that he’s better qualified than a lot of people who have been given head coaching jobs (*cough* Michael Curry *cough*).

    The team (understandably) he’s been most often linked to is the Pistons. Many fans want to see it. I have serious questions about the fit. Would he be able to handle a roster full of finesse players who aren’t really that physical and don’t have a reputation (other than Ben Wallace/Hamilton/Prince) of being hard-nosed or even interested defensively? And on top of that the team is locked into long-term expensive contracts for them?

    There would undoubtedly be fan interest and excitement about it, but I don’t think that would be a situation where he’d be set up to have success. It would be terrible if an icon in this state was hired by the Pistons, didn’t have success and was fired. The same thing happened with the Tigers when they hired Alan Trammell. It didn’t end well and wasn’t good for his legacy.

    Thanks again for taking the time to comment. This wasn’t intended to be a hit-job. It was intended to present contrary evidence to a commonly-held theory — “Laimbeer won in the WNBA, so he would win in the NBA.” I’m not saying he won’t, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some skepticism. And I’d absolutely root for him to succeed here or anywhere he ends up coaching and I’d absolutely admit I’m wrong when/if he does.

  • Sep 15, 201010:23 am
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @Ryan:

    You’re excused.

    To say that white players in the NBA who have success don’t stick out a bit is kind of naive. And to say that some, either directly or indirectly, don’t get extra excited to see white players succeed in basketball is also naive. I’m not saying it’s racist or anything like that, but shared experiences, backgrounds, religions etc. are all factors in who people root for.

    And I’m not saying that defined Laimbeer as a player by any stretch — he’s one of the most underrated of all time. But I’m white, and I know enough white people to know that it’s at least a factor.

    As for your NBA Jam comments, I’m not sure what your point is? The Jam post was just to speculate. Like I said in the post, it would’ve been cool to see another legend or two in the game — Rodman or Salley would’ve been fun. Zeke/Laimb was a fine duo for the game, but there were so many great characters on the Bad Boys teams that could’ve worked.

  • Sep 15, 201010:30 am
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @Ryan again:

    On second thought, I took it out. I don’t think I was wrong, but it didn’t read the way I wanted it to come off. As I said in the above comment, I don’t think white people root for him b/c they are a bunch of big racists. I think they saw him as a working class, blue collar, good guy who could be their next door neighbor. There’s more at work than just “being white”, although I do think that’s part of it.

  • Sep 15, 201012:33 pm
    by Ryan Mathews

    Reply

    @ Patrick
    I didn’t think your intention was to make it sound as if Laimbeer was a fan-favorite because he was white, but the way it was worded made the word “whiteness” stick out like a sore thumb.
     
    To clarify, I’m white as well, and I understand the idea that a white player excelling in a sport like basketball is something that also sticks out like sore thumb. The comments made about Bird by Isiah and Dennis only add veracity to your point considering it’s coming from fellow players. However, I was trying to make the point that Laimbeer more-so stuck out because of his specific style of play, as you mentioned in your original article. The whole team stuck out for that reason. The only comment I didn’t agree with so much was the “whiteness” comment because of the sentence structure and short explanation that came with it.
     
    And in regards to the Jam post, there wasn’t really a whole lot of players that could have been considered “flashy” to fill the roster. I agree about Salley, it would have been interesting and entertaining to get up and down the court with him and Isiah, but Rodman is remembered as a Bull (unfairly in my opinion.) At this point, it’s a mute point considering the rosters are set and everybody has their own opinion on who it’d be fun to play with.
     
    Looking back at my post, I didn’t mean to sound so harsh, but I guess that’s the uncontrolled nature of textual communication (and from your omission you can agree.) Anyways, thanks for the response and making my PSY-100 class somewhat interesting this morning Patrick.

  • Sep 15, 201012:58 pm
    by Dan Feldman

    Reply

    Keri, I want to thank you for posting, especially for doing it under your real name. We all have biases, and your argument is much more credible with those known.

    When Patrick pitched this idea for Myth Week, I was sure of only one thing: people would hate it. But I wasn’t sure whether I agreed. After reading his post, I don’t think Laimbeer has shown he’d make a good coach right now. Maybe he would, but the evidence is stacked against him. And maybe he would some day.

    I will respond to your argument point-by-point.

    Your opinion about his “X & O” are clearly based on someone who did not spend time watching him coach or really understand what his team accomplished. He is a BRILLIANT X & O coach. Ask anyone with a basketball background, or someone who has coached him, played with him, or was coached BY him. Being his daughter, I spend MANY nights up with him in highschool reviewing tapes of upcoming teams and games that were just played. He could see what was going to happen before it happened and it was EVIDENT in the record of his team when he coached.

    Understanding high school Xs and Os is far different than NBA Xs and Os. I’d guess there was a steep jump from Country Day to Syracuse. There’s a steep jump from the WNBA to the NBA, too.

    There were many times when he would come up with a play on the fly in a 30 second time out (see the 1st championship Deana Nolan’s shot in the corner last minute of the game). Your opinion is yours so it is respected, but it is wrong.

    I’ll admit I haven’t watched enough WNBA to have any idea whether Laimbeer possesses this skill. But even if he does, I’d argue it’s not enough to prove he can build an NBA system that can work all game. The ability to draw up an end-of-game play is valuable, but it’s not necessarily the same as the ability to build a system that works midway through the first half.

    Regarding his players:
    Katie Smith – what you fail to mention is that he negotiated the trade of Katie to the Shock from Minnesota where she played he whole career for basically NOTHING. His ability to GM a team in the league was 2nd to none. You also failed to mention the 15 lbs he demanded she lose so that she could fit the role of point guard for the Shock instead of shooting guard as she played her whole life. (her performance speaks for itself)
    Swin Cash – yes, she is a FANTASTIC player. She deserves all the credit in the world. However, you were not privy to the behind the scenes involving her time with the Shock (and i will not make that information public) so you do not understand the dynamics of his coaching of her.
    Cheryl Ford – a strong physical player who THRIVED in the Shock’s system. a GREAT PLAYER who had a great system to play in.
    His players were brought into Detroit BY HIM. He knew what would work and he made it happen. Hes OFTEN accredited with changing the way the league was played and the way it was coached/GMed because the league had to keep up with his examples.

    Maybe he would make a better general manager than coach right now?

    I wont even comment on your OPINION of the Swin situation. I am in NO position to comment on it nor would I ever. But my only advice would be to not believe everything you read and to understand that the league is a business -  with ALL parties attempting to have their “brand” shown in the best light possible. No winners or losers in that situation.

    If it were the NBA, it wouldn’t matter whether Laimbeer was right or wrong or whether Cash was right or wrong. In the NBA, the coach’s job isn’t to be right. Cash thriving somewhere else makes Laimbeer wrong. Is that fair? Absolutely not. But that’s how it is. Coaches have to make it work with their star player, not the other way around.

    The NBA/WNBA is a players league. No coach is or should be the face of the franchise. They do not sell tickets and they do not win games..its a PLAYERS game.

    This is where we disagree the most. The WNBA is not a players league. When the Shock were in Detroit, if you asked people on the street to name someone involved with the team, most would have named Laimbeer. Mahorn would have been a distant second. Any player would have been a distant third behind Mahorn.

    To blame the demise of the Shock on him is pure foolishness. The Shock hold the WNBA attendance record for their finals appearances. He was open and approachable to ALL the WNBA fans. He understood his role in the league and he at times became the leagues ‘dog and pony’ show as they flaunted him around to various appearances and events which he was OPEN to doing. PLEASE do not undermind the work he put into helping the league survive.

    I think Laimbeer has become more media and PR friendly since his playing days. But his reputation for disdaining that part of the job still holds. Whether that reputation is deserved, I don’t know. But it’s still out there.

    And I don’t think that’s purely based on his playing days. Kirk Gibson was a jerk when he played, but everyone loves him now. If you change your attitude, your reputation changes. The change in reputation may come slowly, but it happens.

    The WNBA is a money pit. No team makes a profit. It is the sole decision of the owner to decide the fate of a franchise and with all the “changes” and talk about the Pistons and their future… I believe the blame for the team moving belongs on another woman’s shoulders. IMO.

    The WNBA doesn’t have to make money. I think it’s primary purpose it to generate interest in the NBA. But the WNBA has to limit its losses. I’m not sure the Shock did that. And yes, I agree that Karen Davidson not wanting to take a loss is why the team moved.

    Your opinion is your opinion. Do I believe that he will make a great head coach? ABSOLUTELY. is it because I am his daughter? NO. it is because I know, just like his players, his former coaches and former teammates know what he has the capability to do. he will eventually get his shot and I hope then you are singing another tune.

    I’m sure there are a lot of people who believe Laimbeer would make a good NBA coach. But there are probably hundreds of people that’s true for. Right now, I don’t think Laimbeer has separated himself from the pack. I hope someday, he does.

  • Sep 15, 20101:22 pm
    by nuetes

    Reply

    PistonPowered is on a roll! Classic.

  • Sep 15, 20101:44 pm
    by Tim

    Reply

    Yeah, you are way off on this one.  First, hes loved because of his contributions first and his attitude second.  They dont win those titles without him, I firmly believe that.  Sure, him being white and a villian plays a role in the fan reaction but, without his play, none of that matters.  As you mention yourself, he was about as fundamentally sound as they come and played at a very high level despite limited athleticism.  If I recall correctly, he even led the league in FT% one year.  I’d like to see the “big fundamental” do that!
     
    Second, for you to deny his coaching based on the caliber of player on that shock team is indefensible.  Sure, they were a talented squad, but not head and shoulders above the rest of the league as you make it sound.  He got them to buy into a system and deal with his cantankerous ass.  We will see how he does with the wolves as a big man/asst. coach, but I think you are underselling him based on your personal dislike of the public perception of him.

  • Sep 15, 20101:55 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @ Tim:

    Re: – The Shock’s talent level. The first two Shock title teams were by far the most talented in the league. You’re right, by 07/08 or so, the rest of the league had closed the gap.

    It’s not an indictment of his coaching in the WNBA as much it is pointing out that I think he’s often credited too much for those titles while the fact that he had insanely good talent, particularly on the first two teams. People recognized Laimbeer, wanted him to succeed and wanted him to coach in the NBA. I have no problem with any of those things, but many of the people who use his WNBA experience to justify his being ready for a NBA coaching gig are not people who watched WNBA ball or are familiar with how talented some of those Shock teams were.

    And Keri is absolutely right on this point — it’s something I didn’t touch on enough in the post — Laimbeer did a phenomenal job assembling the talent. I could make a good case that if he were the GM in Minnesota right now rather than an assistant coach, the Wolves would be in much better position than they are in to contend.

  • Sep 15, 20103:12 pm
    by james

    Reply

    Keri,

     Awesome job stepping in and talking about your dad. When I was a an overweight kid of 10 (200lbs) and never played a sport in my life, the Pistons and your fathers no nonsense winning attitude helped give the push I needed to not be afraid of anyone and play basketball. And while my dreams of playing college or pro ball were quickly snapped when I got no taller than 5’10″ – I proudly can say, I would not have lost my weight and met my wife of 14 years had I remained a reclusive ball of… well you know.

    Bill Laimbeer would be a Coach/ or GM right now in the NBA had he been friendlier, and more accessible as a player. And let me put it another way, had he been as @@@ kisser he would hold a top position. But that was not in Bill’s makeup. He fought for the Pistons, and was a huge part of that franchises turnaround. And that is the reason Pistons fans love him. He was their fighter, and in many ways the face of the team. And him being white or black should not matter.

    Keri your dad is doing exactly what he had to do early in his NBA career. He has to fight and earn his spot. He is an assistant coach on a young team, and he has to work himself up the ladder. Even though he is FAAR more qualified than many of his coaching peers. I have little doubt that he will be an NBA coach soon, and many people thought he might have gotten the job in Philadelphia (some were very hopeful he would)

    Tell your dad to keep up the good work! And that he has fans even in the South FL area. Go Pistons! And go Minnesota!

  • Sep 15, 20103:35 pm
    by mcbias

    Reply

    Dan, I think you’re misunderstanding one of Keri’s points. She’s saying that her dad was analyzing games while she was in high school, not that her dad was analyzing high school games. Just wanted that clarified.

  • Sep 15, 20104:19 pm
    by Keri Laimbeer

    Reply

    I never thought my response would create such an uproar and the personal attacks that i’ve received from certain readers was not what expected.
    I dont have the time right now to keep coming back to this article article and I dont think I want to anymore. if you would like to speak more on the topic I would be more than happy to do so.
    @Keri_Laimbeer on twitter
    and klaimbeer@gmail.com by email
     
    again, my intention was not to offend anyone and if I did I apologize. Next time, I will think twice before voicing my perspective on in a public arena.
    everyone stay blessed!
    Keri Laimbeer
     
    **and yes mcbias, you are correct what i meant. perhaps i didnt articulate that clear enough.

  • Sep 15, 20106:28 pm
    by koz

    Reply

    If Laimbeer is not qualified to be a head coach, what exactly qualified Curry to coach in 08-09? How come he gets a shot?

  • Sep 15, 20106:38 pm
    by koz

    Reply

    Maybe Laimbeer as an assistant could work with a Monroe type player and help him to maximize his ability. Maybe he could help all of the post players to play more efficiently. Maybe he can’t, I really don’t exactly know and until given a chance, I don’t think anyone else does either.

  • Sep 15, 20107:34 pm
    by Barb Jones

    Reply

    I just think you’ve got it wrong.   I do not know whether he will be a great NBA coach or not, but I believe he is easily more capable than so many already out there. I am upset however that you diminish him and his ability by relegating his time with the Detroit Shock to a puff job that took no particular skill on his part because of team talent. You make it sound like talent is all it takes. Every  NBA team has talent, too, but they don’t all win championships.
    Do you really think that it’s just that Women are inherently easier to coach? Do you think that they don’t have ego’s and grievances and injuries to manage?    Do you seriously think that the team captains and internal peer pressure  just do it all?  Well, shucks, tell the League President! They’re always looking to cut costs, why pay any coaching staff, if they’re just natural work groups who will succeed anyway?
    If talent were the only issue, how do you explain Nolan’s relative under achievement when coached by Leiberman or Greg Williams? She is an amazing player, but that potential was only developed and realized with Laimbeer’s coaching.  Just making the acquisition of  Katie Smith a brilliant coup on his part, and she was  extremely effective at point guard. Swin Cash  seemed more interested in her brand than the success of the team. Can’t tell you how many times I’d see a little kid, who ‘d waited in a long line for her autograph, who did not even get a look from her as they passed her the card, because she was tied up on her cell phone. The public events don’t mean much to NBA folks, I guess, but that little kid’s parents bought the tickets that wrote her paycheck.  You think Ginoboli – we thought Iverson. Ill tempered with a sense of entitlement that her skills didn’t justify. 
    Tulsa?  Richardson made no secret of the fact that he wanted to shed the Detroit players as quickly as possible. He resented not having been able to pick his own team.  Well, next year, he’ll get to pick his own team, and they’ll still be a train wreck. Meanwhile, those that he traded, Pierson, Zellus, Braxton, Mc Williams did well on the teams they went to. All went to play off berths.
    Bill Laimbeer changed the entire game of women’s professional basketball. It became better, faster, and tougher and much more competitive once he became the Detroit coach.  Find all the reason’s you want to say he shouldn’t coach in the NBA, but not that his work in the WNBA doesn’t merit respect.

    • Jul 4, 201111:42 pm
      by kagiso edwards

      Reply

      Amen Barb Jones to all you posted!! … Patrick Hayes hit piece is manure … Bill must have slapped him around with smart answers to his stupid reporter questions and he still is secretly crying to his momma about it every night before he gets tucked into bed …

  • Sep 15, 20109:13 pm
    by Jason J

    Reply

    I agree with Barb.  If Laimbeer had too much talent to be considered a good coach, then Phil Jackson should be in the same boat, because I can’t remember him making the second round of the playoffs without two of the best players in the NBA on his team and plenty of solid depth and strong role players to boot.

  • Sep 15, 201010:59 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @Barb:
    Gonna respond to your points. I think you misunderstood what I was getting at.
    “I do not know whether he will be a great NBA coach or not, but I believe he is easily more capable than so many already out there.”
    I agree with this. There have been many head-scratching choices for NBA coaching gigs. Laimbeer certainly has a better track record than many. I was not arguing that he doesn’t deserve a shot. I was arguing that I have questions as to whether or not he’d be successful at it.
    “You make it sound like talent is all it takes. Every  NBA team has talent, too, but they don’t all win championships.”
    Every team in every pro sports league has talent. Not every team has three of the best players in the league at the same time, as well as a deep bench. The Shock, particularly their first two title teams, were head and shoulders above the rest of the W when it came to overall talent.
    That’s just a weird statement to make. Certainly you aren’t suggesting that all teams in the NBA and WNBA are basically equal talent-wise? I mean, top to bottom, the Lakers were clearly the most talented team in the NBA last year. The most talented team doesn’t always win the title, but they generally aren’t far off from it.
    “Do you really think that it’s just that Women are inherently easier to coach? Do you think that they don’t have ego’s and grievances and injuries to manage?    Do you seriously think that the team captains and internal peer pressure  just do it all?  Well, shucks, tell the League President! They’re always looking to cut costs, why pay any coaching staff, if they’re just natural work groups who will succeed anyway?”
    I’m not saying any of those things. I’m saying that it is much easier for coaches when they have players who are great leaders like Nolan, Ford and Cash. Players who police the team, who command the respect of teammates and who squash the nonsense or egos or other distractions. Yes, teams with internally driven players who are also among the most talented in the league are easier to coach. It doesn’t mean coaches are unnecessary, far from it. But it needs to be pointed out that the Shock under Laimbeer had the luxury of great, great leadership on the court.
    And incidentally, Laimbeer was one of those internally driven players who supported a winning culture and helped police the locker room and kept crazy egos in check when he played. That undoubtedly made things easier on Chuck Daly.
    “If talent were the only issue, how do you explain Nolan’s relative under achievement when coached by Leiberman or Greg Williams? She is an amazing player, but that potential was only developed and realized with Laimbeer’s coaching.”
    She undoubtedly improved under Laimbeer, but the biggest key was giving her more minutes. Her per-minute stats her first two seasons were not far off what they were Laimbeer’s first year coaching. There’s something to be said about him recognizing she needs an increased role, but it wasn’t like she was terrible before, she just wasn’t on the court as much, so her stats were lower.
    “Just making the acquisition of  Katie Smith a brilliant coup on his part, and she was  extremely effective at point guard.”
    I have said in previous comments that I underplayed (unintentionally) his personnel moves. They were brilliant (and I’m working on a post on that aspect as we speak). He assembled an amazingly talented roster that perfectly fit the style he wanted to run.
    “Swin Cash  seemed more interested in her brand than the success of the team. Can’t tell you how many times I’d see a little kid, who ‘d waited in a long line for her autograph, who did not even get a look from her as they passed her the card, because she was tied up on her cell phone. The public events don’t mean much to NBA folks, I guess, but that little kid’s parents bought the tickets that wrote her paycheck.  You think Ginoboli – we thought Iverson. Ill tempered with a sense of entitlement that her skills didn’t justify.”
    I won’t argue with your personal experiences. You saw what you saw. But I will say this: Swin Cash has rings. She’s been a winning player collegiality playing on two title teams at UConn and she’s on the verge of her third WNBA title. I don’t know Swin Cash, so I won’t speculate what she’s like, but on the court, there’s no denying that she’s a winner.
    “Richardson made no secret of the fact that he wanted to shed the Detroit players as quickly as possible. He resented not having been able to pick his own team.”
    I don’t think that’s true. I think he was expecting players who fit his system, which is also predicated on defense and toughness, better. Honestly, I thought Hornbuckle would’ve been perfect for what he runs with her ability to pressure the ball, but obviously things didn’t work out.
    And yeah, they went on to play for playoff teams, but it’s not like any of them were anything more than role players. They are all solid in certain roles, but no doubt about it, the fact that they didn’t have Nolan or Smith to be the primary options exposed the remaining players’ weaknesses much more than they were exposed in Detroit.
    “Find all the reason’s you want to say he shouldn’t coach in the NBA, but not that his work in the WNBA doesn’t merit respect.”
    I did not say his work didn’t merit respect. I said that there were situations he was in as coach of the Shock that raised questions in my mind whether  or not he’d be a successful NBA coach. I don’t think success in the WNBA is an automatic predictor of success in the NBA, and many who push for Laimbeer to get a NBA head coaching gig use his WNBA success as the basis of their argument.
    As I said above, there are legit reasons he should get a shot in the NBA, but his stint with the Shock is low on my list of those reasons.

  • Sep 15, 201011:11 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @Jason J:
    Phil Jackson is a great example of my point about Laimbeer — can Laim handle diva-like NBA personalities?
    Phil has been successful, particularly in LA, because he can. How would Laimbeer have reacted to Shaq showing up 30 pounds overweight every single season? How would he have reacted to Kobe’s “Shaq goes or I go” ultimatum? Or to Kobe blasting the organization for not trading for Jason Kidd? Or to Pau Gasol’s passive aggressive digs at Kobe in the LA papers?
    Phil Jackson has handled all of those things. The Lakers may have won titles without him coaching them, but he’s undoubtedly been a great coach of modern superstars who adapts his personality on a player-by-player basis.
    I’m not saying Laimbeer couldn’t handle things like that, but what his tenure with the Shock showed was that he very much wanted players who fit his system and who could handle his demands. In the NBA, coaches don’t have the freedom to pick their team like that. In other words, he didn’t handle things on a player-by-player basis, he had structure, order and wanted rules to be followed by everyone, whether it was a star player like Swin Cash or an end of the bench player.
    I’m not saying those are bad things — I actually think they’re really good things. But I also don’t think situations (outside of San Antonio) exist in the NBA where a coach can treat everyone equally, expect the same out of everyone, etc. Stars are treated differently in the league, and it’s been that way at least the last 15 years or so ever since the league has been on its quest to anoint the next Jordan.
    And incidentally, I do give Michael Jordan much, much, much more credit for the Bulls six rings than I do Phil Jackson. Kobe/Shaq are a different story b/c that was a soap opera that required constant mediation by Jackson, but Phil had it easier in Chicago because everyone on that team was legitimately terrified to disappoint Mike.

  • Sep 15, 201011:15 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @koz:
    I never said Laimbeer is not qualified. He’s more than qualified, especially when compared to guys like Curry who have been given opportunities.
    But since you bring him up, MC was hired, I’m sure, because he had a good relationship with Joe Dumars. Dumars wanted some specific things from Flip Saunders — developing the bench, more consistent effort — that never materialized. I’m sure that Curry nailed his interview by talking up his plans to do those very things (they were virtually all he talked about before the season started that year), so that helped get him the job.
    Of course, he turned out to be in way over his head and unable to deal with egos in the locker room. I don’t know if Laimbeer would’ve had more success with that team than Curry.
    But I will say this — it would’ve been entertaining as hell to see Laimbeer try and coach Allen Iverson that season.

  • Sep 16, 201012:35 am
    by john marzan

    Reply

    “He was a great rebounder, great defender, great passing big man, nearly flawless fundamentals and obviously had great range as well as a solid post-up game. He’s basically the prototype for how all big men with limited athleticism should aspire to play.”

    how old were you when you saw him play, patrick? the guy had no post-up game. the guy wasn’t a great defender, he was a DIRTY player. i don’t recall him being a “great” passer. he just hung behind the three point line to shoot threes. but he was a great defensive rebounder.

    mebbe you’re talking about larry bird?

  • Sep 16, 201012:37 am
    by John K

    Reply

    I was a Boston-area resident and Celtics fan during the Bad Boys days, so naturally I hated Laimbeer. You couldn’t *not*.

    Since those days, I’ve lived in seven or eight different states and watched a lot of NBA games where the home team was not my team, although it was easy, after moving to Michigan, to root for the low-nonsense work-ethic Pistons who were mostly recently contenders. And to chafe at the thought that Boston could’ve had Billups.

    Watching Pistons games, one thing that really struck me is that Laimbeer is the single fairest ‘homer’ commentator I ever heard. EVER. Single most honest. He rooted for the Pistons, but if they got the benefit of a questionable call, he’d say so. If a Piston got away with a travel, Bill would laugh and let you know. If they got away with fouls here and there or flopped and went to the line anyway, Laimbeer would give you the straight answer.

    I love Tommy Heinsohn, but you’re not going to get that kind of balanced reportage out of him. Laimbeer was a great commentator. I always felt like I was watching the game with a no-BS friend who knew the game inside and out and called it like he saw it.

    His playing days are a long way back. Some of the nostalgia the fans have for him might be born out of the wrong reasons, but I’m not sure it matters anymore, anyway.

  • Sep 16, 201012:51 am
    by The Rake

    Reply

    I couldn’t really read all this because you were talking about the WNBA and I dont get down like that.  That aside, I love Laimbeer and think that he has the potential to be a very good coach in the league.  IF Bill were the coach of say, the Cavs the last two years, would he have had more success than Mike Brown?  I suspect he might have.  It takes TALENT to be a successful coach in any league.  TALENT wins in basketball as much as anything.  Phil Jax is a great coach but he has only coached the best TALENT that the league has to offer, so of course he is successful.  I dont think Phil could have coached the T’Wolves to the playoffs last year, is my point.  I think Bill can coach in the league at some point, though yes, his abrasive style would be difficult for so many prima donnas in the L, that is why a blue collar town like Detroit makes so much sense.  Not just becuz he played here, but becuz the town can respect a tough coach like that.
    The Rake
    http://thefilmnest.com

  • Sep 16, 201010:41 am
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    Who is John Marzan? I don’t even know this kid.
    “How old were you?” is the single weakest way to win an argument. As to your points, you are very, very wrong.
    Some facts:
    - Laimbeer could shoot the three and did so at a respectable 33 percent clip for his career. But your assertion that he just “hung behind the three point line to shoot threes” is dead wrong. For his career, he averaged less than 1 three-point attempt per game. His career high was 2.0 attempts per game. He averaged more than one attempt per game only four times for a single season. That is not what I would call someone who made their living on offense by jacking up threes.
    - In his prime, he was one of the best rebounders in the league. He led the league once and was among the league leaders 10 times.
    - “i don’t recall him being a “great” passer.” He averaged 2 assists per game for his career, which is pretty good for a center who wasn’t the focal point of the offense. Watch some tape of him in the high post. Watch him find guys like Rodman and Salley slashing to the basket. He was a very, very good passing big man, and he also averaged less than a turnover a game for his career.
    - “the guy had no post-up game.” Uh … yes he did. Again, look at his prime years. He didn’t shoot the three at all really his first eight years or so in the league. It didn’t become a go-to shot for him until his 10th season. Click that link. Come on. Go for it. You see his scoring averages? A guy who averaged 13 or more points per game for a season seven times, including a couple of seasons where he was at 17 a game, all while not really shooting from the perimeter that often, had no post game in your mind? None? Explain how he scored points then.
    - “the guy wasn’t a great defender” Later in his career, his defense slipped as his athleticism, which was limited in the first place, dwindled. But in his prime, he was at worst a league average defender. He was strong, crafty and while he wasn’t a shot blocker, he had quick hands and was really good at stripping the ball as guys went up for shots.
    - “he was a DIRTY player” We like to think of him in Detroit as a winning player.
    - “mebbe you’re talking about larry bird?” I have no idea what the word ‘mebbe’ means. And no, I’m definitely not talking about Larry Bird.
    You accuse me of not really being old enough to watch him, but whatever your age is, I think it’s you who hasn’t watched him and, on top of that, hasn’t looked at the stats. Say what you want about his style of play, it is what it is. Some people hated it, some loved it.
    But if you’re going to make a case that he’s not a good player, you better come stronger with statistical evidence of that.

  • Sep 16, 201010:45 am
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @John K:
    He was a GREAT broadcaster for Pistons games. I remember when he’d have the occasional game off and they’d replace him with Mahorn, who was terrible and gave the impression he wasn’t watching the game half the time. Laimbeer was funny, often critical of the Pistons (certainly far more critical than current broadcaster Greg Kelser is, although I love Special K) when need be.
    What I really enjoyed was his analysis of big men. There are very few talented bigs who are broadcasters (Walton, Barkley and McHale are exceptions). A lot of former players who go into it are guards, so Laimbeer’s insight into things going on under the basket was always interesting. And it was always funny to see him get booed on the road during the pregame show when he and George Blaha would be trying to preview the game.

  • Sep 16, 201010:51 am
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @The Rake:
    Nothing wrong with the W my man.
    As for your points, I agree that if he is in the right situation, he’d be fine as a coach. I disagree with this though:
    “IF Bill were the coach of say, the Cavs the last two years, would he have had more success than Mike Brown?  I suspect he might have.”
    After Lebron left, all kinds of reports came out about the type of power he wielded in that organization, from having his boys always around the arena, getting them jobs that were created out of thin air just to appease him, etc.
    To steal your phrase, I’m not sure Laim would “get down like that.”
    Who knows, maybe it would’ve been good for Lebron, but I think Dan Gilbert set the tone that Lebron could do/have whatever he wanted, so even if Laimbeer or any coach didn’t like it, the coach probably would’ve been powerless to stop it.

  • Sep 17, 201012:19 am
    by Jim

    Reply

    This article is so far off base.  First I’d like to thank Keri who took the time to destroy this tripe.  Boys, ganging up on Keri’s comment with numerous posts doesn’t win you the argument.
    You can speculate all you want about how successful Bill would be as a coach, but the point is he deserved a shot.  Certainly more than Curry ever did.  Curry was supposedly the guy who the players respected and would fall in line with.  How’d that work out?  Diva or not, a player will respect a guy who has 5 rings more than a guy who was vp (or whatever) of a union and averaged 2 points a game his career.
    So this Cash person clashed with Bill and she was shipped out?  Good!  3 rings pal.  Fall in line or you’re gone.  That’s how you deal with divas.  We don’t need players who want to be a star, we need players who want to win.
    If Flip hadn’t been such a wuss and let the players walk all over him, we’d have another ‘ship or two.   Bill would have benched Sheed’s lazy ass for JMax.  Maybe that would light a fire under Sheed’s ass, maybe not.  Who cares?  You could have all the talent in the world but if you’re not getting it done, you’re done.
    As a coach, it’s just stupid to say you have to manage the player’s personalities.  There is enough talent in this league to win without that crap.
    You say this is a player’s league.  You may be right but that doesn’t mean DETROIT BASKETBALL has to stoop to that.  Bring in a coach with balls who will turn this team into one personality.

  • Sep 17, 20101:40 am
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @Jim:

    This wasn’t ganging up on anyone. It was a passionate discussion, and Keri said as much herself. Now, to your comments:

    “You can speculate all you want about how successful Bill would be as a coach, but the point is he deserved a shot.”

    Nowhere did I write he didn’t deserve a shot. Asking questions about whether or not he’d be a success is very different than saying “he’s not qualified” or “he shouldn’t get a shot.” I never said either of those things.

    “Curry was supposedly the guy who the players respected and would fall in line with.  How’d that work out?  Diva or not, a player will respect a guy who has 5 rings more than a guy who was vp (or whatever) of a union and averaged 2 points a game his career.”

    Curry’s biggest asset was his relationship with Joe Dumars. Dumars believed Curry would be a communicator. During Flip Saunders’ tenure, many things that Dumars wanted — a bench developed and starters’ minutes reduced during the regular season chief among them — weren’t getting carried out. Curry was an assistant for a year with this group, so there was some continuity since he already knew the players and what they ran, and he vowed to develop a bench and avoid the complacency that plagued Saunders’ teams. Obviously, he didn’t do those things that he was hired to do. Then he was fired. Hiring him was a mistake that was quickly corrected.

    “So this Cash person clashed with Bill and she was shipped out?  Good!  3 rings pal.  Fall in line or you’re gone.”

    Cash just won her third ring tonight. She also has two from her college days. Maybe she’s a diva, I don’t know. But don’t pretend like she’s not a winner.

    “As a coach, it’s just stupid to say you have to manage the player’s personalities.  There is enough talent in this league to win without that crap.”

    You’re really naive if you think coaches don’t have to manager personalities. Phil Jackson and Chuck Daly were so successful because of their ability to manage many different (and often crazy) personalities. That was a huge factor in their success. It’s kind of insane if you don’t see that.

    “You say this is a player’s league.  You may be right but that doesn’t mean DETROIT BASKETBALL has to stoop to that.”

    Detroit basketball has already stooped to that. Every team has stooped to that. In fact, every pro league where the players are paid more than the coaches has stooped to that. It’s a players league because you can’t replace the players as easily as the coach. It’s not about coaches lacking “balls,” it’s about coaches wanting to do the best they can to keep their jobs as long as they can, and occasionally massaging the egos of star players is a part of that process, whether you like it or not.

  • Sep 18, 20108:39 am
    by john marzan

    Reply

    - Laimbeer could shoot the three and did so at a respectable 33 percent clip for his career. But your assertion that he just “hung behind the three point line to shoot threes” is dead wrong. For his career, he averaged less than 1 three-point attempt per game. His career high was 2.0 attempts per game. He averaged more than one attempt per game only four times for a single season. That is not what I would call someone who made their living on offense by jacking up threes.

    the three pt shot was new then. he seemed at that time to hang around the perimeter and shoot jumpers. i remember him making 6 in the finals. but yes, he didnt exclusively shoot 3 ptrs. a lot of his jumpers were below the 3 pt line. midrange shots. quick release.

    - In his prime, he was one of the best rebounders in the league. He led the league once and was among the league leaders 10 times.

    i know that.

    http://nba1986.blogspot.com/2005/08/bill-laimbeer.html

    - “i don’t recall him being a “great” passer.” He averaged 2 assists per game for his career, which is pretty good for a center who wasn’t the focal point of the offense. Watch some tape of him in the high post. Watch him find guys like Rodman and Salley slashing to the basket. He was a very, very good passing big man, and he also averaged less than a turnover a game for his career.

    that’s nothing unusual. a lot of centers then were skilled fundamentally. but 2 assists per game is average in the 80s. you should see other centers like daugherty, walton, jabbar, etc.

    - “the guy had no post-up game.” Uh … yes he did. Again, look at his prime years. He didn’t shoot the three at all really his first eight years or so in the league. It didn’t become a go-to shot for him until his 10th season. Click that link. Come on. Go for it. You see his scoring averages? A guy who averaged 13 or more points per game for a season seven times, including a couple of seasons where he was at 17 a game, all while not really shooting from the perimeter that often, had no post game in your mind? None? Explain how he scored points then.

    admit it. you’re just making shit up. most of his shots were 15 to 18 ft. stop relying on statistics to fill your knowledge gap.

  • Sep 18, 20108:44 am
    by john marzan

    Reply

    - “the guy wasn’t a great defender” Later in his career, his defense slipped as his athleticism, which was limited in the first place, dwindled. But in his prime, he was at worst a league average defender. He was strong, crafty and while he wasn’t a shot blocker, he had quick hands and was really good at stripping the ball as guys went up for shots.

    it’s called the karate chop. sometimes he strips the ball, sometimes he misses the ball and smacks the arm hard instead. laimbeer may be a great rebounder, but he’s an awful defender. kinda like david lee. the difference is that lee wouldnt do the hard fouls that were necessary to intimidate players.

  • Sep 19, 201010:35 am
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @john marzan:
    YOUR quote was this: “he just hung behind the three point line to shoot threes.” I simply used stats to show that your assertion was wrong. Then you backed off and said, “well I meant he just shot from the perimeter.”
    Was Laimbeer a McHale-esque post-up player? No way. Was he an adequate option if you throw it in to him? Sure. He was strong, he used the backboard effectively on angled shots and while he certainly wasn’t going to go up and over anyone, he used pump fakes well and had good footwork inside.
    You mention the six threes he hit in the Finals vs. Portland without mentioning that those title teams were in the twilight of his career. In the early/mid 80s, he carried much more of the offensive load for Detroit, but as they added players and as he aged, he became more of a role player. Yes, later in his career (as I mentioned) he began to shoot the three more. But his offensive game was more diverse than that early on in his career.
    Assist totals are a stupid measure for centers. Watch him throw perfect outlet passes every time. Watch him throw entry passes from the high post when the Pistons had Edwards on the team. Watch him hit guys like Salley and Rodman on backdoor cuts. Do those things, and then try and tell me again why you think he wasn’t a good passer.
    As for the “karate chop” move you describe as some sort of luck move, you’re wrong again. To do it as consistently as he was able to, you have to be able to anticipate and have quick hands. Karl Malone was also a master of it.
    And as I also said, his athleticism limited some of the things he could do defensively. But he also drew charges all the time (some would say flops, but it’s still effective defense, just ask Anderson Varejao), had great anticipation and unlike your ridiculous Lee comparison, Laimbeer was strong enough to hold position in the post. Yes, one-on-one, he would’ve struggled against quicker post players if the Pistons didn’t have such a great overall defensive team, but he was far from a useless defensive player.
    Keep trying my man. I don’t know what you’re trying to prove with this discussion, but I’m not going to bow down and act as if you are some sort of basketball genius. I’ve never heard of you, never read your work and have no idea why I’m expected to be grateful or something that you magically showed up in the PistonPowered comments to teach me about the game.
    If I need advice on how to start every sentence with a lower case letter and not capitalize proper nouns, I’ll totally seek you out though.

  • Sep 20, 20105:34 am
    by john marzan

    Reply

    Kevin Mchale? He’s not even Boris Diaw!

  • Sep 20, 201011:49 am
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    “Spain and USA will meet in the semis and the USA team is in danger or missing the finals here.”
    Oops.

  • Sep 22, 20102:47 am
    by Atish Patel

    Reply

    Thank you Keri Laimbeer.
    You can’t base everything on how good of a coach he would be when you seem to barely know anything about the guy as an actual coach. Especially when you yourself said that you didn’t watch that many games. Also, the players you named from the NBA who didn’t get value back because of conflict with the coaches, Allen Iverson was an old 30 because of all of his injuries but still sent back 2 first round draft picks and andre miller. Vince Carter also brought back 2 first round draft picks to Toronto. A player like those two who teams really wanted at the times they were traded will get good value back because those teams will outbid each other to get them. The only great players that don’t get value back are those who have major off the court problems that a team just wants to get rid of, but that wouldn’t be the case here.
    Good coaches can come from anywhere and have completely different personalities and still succeed. You put too much emphasis on what very few said on their coach. I find it hard to believe that there is even one NBA Championship winning coach who didn’t make at least a few of their players absolutely hate them.
    This piece seems like you just wanting to believe that he would be a bad NBA coach and you just trying to convince yourself that he would fail at it.

  • Sep 22, 201011:15 am
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @Atish:
    Two first round picks for an All-Star is not good value if those are not lottery picks. Philly got zero lottery picks for Iverson. Toronto got zero lottery picks for Carter. That is not good value.
    This is absolutely not me trying to convince myself or anyone that he’d fail at it. The point was to say there are legitimate questions as to whether he could be a NBA head coach that people don’t consider in this state. Laimbeer is loved here, and his fans really want him to coach the Pistons some day. I’m not sure that is a good fit, particularly with the roster the Pistons are locked into and the style of play Laimbeer’s system would require.

  • Jun 10, 20115:41 pm
    by Kim Jong Skillz

    Reply

    keri laimbeer has a biased opinion as bill is her father. in the business world this is called a “conflict of interest”. so to be fair, her input has no bearing what so ever in this conversation. and to be brutally honest a lot of her argument didnt really hold any water as it was blantently biased in every point she tried to make.
    (Personal attack removed) john marzan seems to be a non pistons fan who hated bill laimbeer for his style of play during his career, so he is rationalizing with himself that he wasnt a good player. to even say that kevin mchale is not boris diaw is absurd. ones a hall of famer the other is/was barely ever an allstar.

  • Jul 4, 201111:44 pm
    by kagiso edwards

    Reply

    MYTH: Patrick Hayes is an objective journalist.  We are still waiting for you explain why you had nothing ever bad to say about Curry before he was hired nor Kuester but DO FIND THE TIME TO do a hit piece on Bill Laimbeer….

  • Jul 4, 201111:46 pm
    by kagiso edwards

    Reply

    With apologies and without permission .. I repost another person’s view of this article ….

    That was one of the dumbest article I’ve seen in awhile. It boggles the mind that the author claims to know anything about basketball.
    It’s hard to know where to start!
    “Bill Laimbeer won three championships as coach of the Detroit Shock. I can’t and won’t argue with the results. What I will argue is that Laimbeer didn’t have to do anything special to win with the Detroit Shock.”
    WHAT??? That statement alone lets you know this clown doesn’t know a thing about basketball. I mean, how can you even take this crap seriously?
    Then dufus comes up with this gem…
    “There were certainly other factors at play, but I tend to think the impact of coaches is a bit overrated when they win and underrated when they lose (except for Michael Curry … he sucked in every way). The Shock won titles first and foremost because they had several great players and a couple legit franchise cornerstones.”
    What??? Both things can’t be true!!! The impact can’t be overrated in wins, and underrated in losses, it’s either over or under in both, or maybe this dufus just believes losses are a result of coaching, and wins are a result of players ignoring their coach.
    When someone this stupid write an article, well, I won’t go there, but I’m surprised anyone takes this crap seriously.
     

    • Jul 5, 201112:02 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Haha. This post is like a year old and you’re just finding it? Man. Imagine how pissed you would’ve been last year when it was actually published.

      I’d just like to point out that I wasn’t trying to be objective. If you’d paid attention to the series this post was a part of, it was called ‘Myth Week.’ The point of that series was to take controversial stands on long-held Pistons beliefs and argue that not commonly held side of the argument. I wasn’t out to write a pros and cons analysis of Laimbeer as a coach. I was out to point out some potential downsides to hiring him as a coach, things that are often ignored because, frankly, there is so much undying love for the man in this state that it is considered blasphemy to point out any of his flaws.

  • Jul 5, 20116:49 am
    by bob bayer

    Reply

     
    Patrick Hayes writes…

    But when we think about Curry, trying to figure out if he fits
    somewhere between Tim Floyd and Red Auerbach on the scale of NBA coaches is
    pointless. We need to go outside of the world of sports to find an apt
    comparison. Michael Curry is the Barack Obama of the NBA.

    Both are great public speakers, both worked hard to get good
    educations and successful careers, both have had their experience questioned
    and both are trying to redefine their respective professions.

    Does it matter that Curry might not be as strong in the X’s and
    O’s as Saunders? No, because, like Obama, Curry has assembled an experienced
    coaching staff that includes former head coaches Dave Cowens (who coached under
    Saunders for two seasons) and Darrell Walker as well as Pat Sullivan, who was
    an assistant on the 2004 title team under Larry Brown. Curry also values the
    input of those coaches, allowing them to run aspects of practice so that players
    don’t quickly tire of his voice

    Curry has also been refreshingly accountable. After two years
    under Flip Saunders in which the players took the brunt of the media criticism
    while Saunders was almost seen as an unfortunate, disrespected figure who guys
    would not listen to, Curry has shown he will man up to mistakes:

    Patrick Hayes writes…

    Dan Feldman with a nice roundup of all the positive things being
    said about John Kuester so far. Most of the comments go like this: he’s not
    Michael Curry, but an interesting note is that his career is similar to Chuck
    Daly’s, who didn’t get his first NBA head coaching job until he was 52. Kuester
    is 54.

    Think of Kuester more like Rick Carlisle, another longtime
    assistant who took over a Pistons team in transition.

    As long as fans’ expectations change — namely, be satisfied
    with a playoff appearance and a fun offense this year — Kuester should be a
    success. His predecessor certainly set the bar a bit lower for him.

    Dear Mr. Patrick Hayes … You were really wrong about Michael
    Curry .. Wrong about John Kuester .. and had good things to say about Curry and
    Kuester even though they NEVER had been an NBA head coach before … So Mr.
    Hayes, it is clear you don’t have an objective view of Bill Laimbeer when you
    can knock Laimbeer unfairly all over the place even while he at least has head coaching experience in guiding 3 professional basketball teams (Detroit WNBA Shock) to championships .. and yet you give these 2
    inexperienced losers complete support and almost flowery bouquets on their hiring as the Detroit Pistons head
    coaches
    .. You were completely wrong in your
    conclusions about who would be a good NBA head coach ..OBVIOUSLY .. Curry stunk! Kuester was
    lame! I can
    at least say I was totally against Kuester being hired and thought Laimbeer
    should have not only been hired instead of Kuester but also instead of Curry,
    the disaster clown coach, the guy you supported as the Obama of NBA head coaches and were about as wrong
    as you could be in projecting success .. In
    conclusion, since you don’t
    know what you are talking about ..just zip it!! ….

    I will support whomever
    Joe Dumars hires …but have to make clear that the way to go on this is for Joe to hire Laimbeer
    because he is a smart tough championship head coach who is dedicated to
    bringing winning back to the Detroit Pistons.

    • Jul 5, 201110:27 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Mr. Bayer:

      I have, on numerous occasions, admitted to being wrong on both Curry and Kuester. The Curry post was a parody piece. It was written for a blog called It’s Just Sports. Since you’re not familiar, that blog was intended to be a mix of sports coverage and humor. So yeah, I made a ridiculous comparison to be funny/drive page views during election season/comment on the fact that Curry was presented by the team as some great, innovative motivator who was totally going to succeed in all of the ways Flip Saunders failed. So yeah, the post ended up looking incredibly stupid if taken out of that context, but I knew it would probably look stupid eventually at the time I wrote it.

      I thought Curry would be a better coach than he proved to be. It was clear early in his tenure that he was over his head, and I wrote as much when I was writing about the Pistons for MLive.

      Kuester was a good assistant coach who deserved a shot at a HC job. He was cheap, and that was important to the Pistons. He didn’t work out, and now he’ll go back to being a respected assistant, which is fine.

      I also have to point out that you are commenting on a post that is:

      a. A year old

      b. Is purposely written to be a counter-point to people like yourself, who are incapable of admitting that Laimbeer is anything but a legendary, tough, whip those guys into shape kind of guy who is such a great head coaching candidate that every team in the league must be beating down the door to try and get him. The title of the series it was a part of was ‘Myth Week.’ Shouldn’t that clue you in that, while I was arguing a viewpoint I agree with — that there’s no reason to believe Laimbeer is more qualified than any other first-time head coaching candidate out there — I was also admittedly doing it in an argumentative way. The series was designed to encourage debate and strong opinions, so I wrote this in a strong and authoritative way to accomplish that. Judging by your previous comments (under all the different screen names you use) here, though, that is lost on you. Everything that doesn’t jibe with your view of things is “biased” and means whoever wrote it is “an idiot who should just zip it.”

      Seriously man. Post is a year old. If you’re going to argue, at least try to understand the context. Perhaps read some of the Laimbeer posts I’ve written since then. Or don’t, I don’t care either way. But I’m certainly not going to take your opinion all that seriously if you don’t put in the time to formulate a decent argument.

  • Jul 5, 20118:53 pm
    by kagiso edwards

    Reply

    Mr. Haynes and Mr. Feldman .. Dont get me wrong and this needs to be said … You both do a lot of great work here … and deserve plenty of props and thanks on that … I am glad you are here and the NBA and the Detroit Pistons are much more interesting because of your fine work .. But you didnt get this right and you have to face the fact you are biased for who knows what reason .. This is not a battle or journalistic effor you brought your best to, so yeah, you should be ashamed of the Laimbeer hit pieces ..   but you can keep your heads held high on your other work .. peace out ..

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