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Coach Laimbeer Brings NBA
Attitude To Liberty
The New York Liberty is an original member of the WNBA and, just as the New York Rangers are an original six team in the NHL, and the Knicks an original in the NBA franchise who have won Championships, James Dolan wants a Championship banner hanging in the rafters for his Lady Liberty.
I greeted the new Liberty coach, Bill Laimbeer, as he arrived at Mohegan Sun on Saturday, May 11 for his first pre-season game at the helm of the Liberty. A winner of three WNBA Championships with Detroit Shock and two as a player with the Pistons, Bill has a personality as big as the Garden and he knows how to win.
In photo above: Coach Bill Laimbeer, surrounded by his players and coaching staff during a time out, challenges his players to perform better and instills confidence in his new team. Laimbeer who is a proven winner as both a player and coach has the ability to get his team in a position to win. Laimbeer is known for making everyone a better player and getting the entire rooster to play as a team. (photo by J. Dombrowski)
Laimbeer pointed to some banners hanging over his head in Connecticut and made the “L” letter referring to those banners as losers (Eastern Conference Championships, New York has a few also) and again explained that Jim Dolan hired him to win a WNBA Championship.
Laimbeer as a coach has a reputation of treating his lady players as basketball players, no different than he would treat men. He wants his team to play hard and was quick to note that he respects the women. “Mr. Dolan respects the women and treats his Liberty team just like the Knicks,” noted Bill.
Asked how it felt to wear New York on his shirt, Bill explained that “…this is a new chapter in my life and I spoke to my wife and we decided to give New York a whirl.”
After leaving the Shock, who folded as a franchise shortly after Laimbeer departed, he took an assistant coaching job with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Now he comes to the Liberty as their coach and general manager.
In recent years, The Liberty have made the playoffs but have been missing the chemistry that is needed to win a Championship Title. Laimbeer has put together a solid roster of veterans with some young blood and has added size and strength to the team.
The Liberty home season opens on Friday, May 31, N.J. (7 pm).
I’ve been covering the WNBA since its inception in 1997 and the ladies play a rough and quick game. The WNBA may lack the dunking of the NBA but its very physical and full of fast breaks and good defense. The League is much more team oriented and the caliber of play has advanced with women gaining in skill and strength.
By James Dombrowski