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Don’t expect to see Bill Laimbeer coaching in the NBA again

Sep 16, 2013, 1:44 PM EDT

Bill Laimbeer AP

Bill Laimbeer has been as successful a coach in the WNBA as has been seen — his teams have won three titles in six years. He’s direct and harsh in an old-school kind of way that has served him well in the WNBA.

Just don’t expect to see him back on an NBA bench.

Kate Fagan at ESPNW did a fantastic profile of Laimbeer and as part of it touched on his time as an NBA assistant coach, working under Kurt Rambis for two seasons with the Timberwolves. Two bad seasons. And when Fagan asked front office people around the league about Laimbeer and his chances as an NBA coach, their comments left little room for doubt that he has almost no chance of getting back.

He’s lazy. He’s a buffoon. He can’t relate to NBA players. He treats them like it’s college. Guys just won’t play for him.

Laimbeer’s tenure with the Timberwolves is seen as a resounding failure, probably the final nail in his NBA coffin….

Perception is often reality. And in NBA circles, Laimbeer has a perception problem, compounded by his “I-don’t-give-a-s—” attitude about it. He doesn’t care how he’s viewed, even if how he’s viewed is keeping him from achieving the very thing he says is (or at least was) his ultimate goal: a head-coaching job in the league.

Being an NBA coach is not just about Xs and Os, it’s about managing players’ egos. Phil Jackson’s gift wasn’t strategy (that’s why he had Tex Winter along for the ride), rather it was his ability to get everyone pulling on the rope the same direction and to get them to think it was their idea to do so.

Laimbeer lacks that skill, and as so his ability to succeed in the NBA is questioned. Fairly or not.

Fagan describes how Laimbeer became frustrated running a drill at a 2010 NBA Draft workout and it eventually almost got out of control as he got on players who were not doing the drill the way he wanted. You can argue he was right they were not doing it his way, but this workout had a lot of team executives on hand who saw Laimbeer — who already had a reputation as hard to work with — make himself the center of the show. It’s one incident, but it played into the perception — but if someone else ran that same workout the same way it might have been seen differently (“don’t you love how X is such a stickler on getting the details right?”).

Never say never. The NBA coaching carousel seems to come back around with some odd choices now and again. However for Laimbeer it looks like the ride is not coming around again.

Hat tip to Dan writing at Piston Powered.

  1. GT - Sep 16, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    Never say never. If some owner thinks signing Laimbeer will make him money or gets his team some attention, they’ll do it.

    However, there are some teams you can probably say “never” with Bill, the Celtics for one. Detroit is probably the most possible.

    • fanofevilempire - Sep 16, 2013 at 7:47 PM

      Maybe Bill can get a shot with the Thunder when they realize their
      coach is overrated and just looks good on TV.

  2. ausar02 - Sep 16, 2013 at 4:36 PM

    As a fan obviously I’m not privy to all the behind the scenes actions that have built Laimbeer’s negative rep, but I would love him to coach my team any day.

    I like that I don’t give a *&#! attitude. He’s a proven winner, proven to be knowledgeable and a huge competitor. I like that he would weed out those players who are more concerned about anything else other than winning.

  3. 00maltliquor - Sep 16, 2013 at 6:54 PM

    How can he be “lazy” and a “buffoon” and coach his team to 3 championships in 6 years? Yeah, yeah it’s the WNBA, but still……doesn’t add up.

    • shanelsweet - Sep 16, 2013 at 8:04 PM

      The ESPNW profile points out that he has a real talent for seeing the game and pointing out exactly how a particular play should be run to perfection. He’s something of a genius at some coaching skills, but he’s got a really crappy personality. GM’s and Owners (and most every other man) hate his arrogant butt. Women seem to appreciate his help and overlook the way he communicates with them. He seems to have convinced the ESPNW folks that most men would not.

      • longtallsam - Sep 17, 2013 at 8:52 AM

        In other words, the women are a lot more coachable than the guys. Why is that not surprising?

    • j0esixpack - Sep 16, 2013 at 10:51 PM

      Perhaps the fear of being beaten to a pulp by your coach is a motivating factor?

  4. weaselpuppy - Sep 16, 2013 at 7:23 PM

    Plenty of residual hate left over from his playing days when he was a max effort guy and hard nosed mentally tough, smart and do anything to win player. Got him two rings and a few all star games plus a couple rebounding titles from a guy with less talent than most of the rebound first bigs in the HOF that have similar win shares for their careers ( Unseld, Gilmore, Lucas).

    Just Win Baby!

    list of 4/5s that have multiple rings and players and as a head coach-

    Bill Russell
    Bill Laimbeer.
    Phil Jackson

    end list

  5. sportsfan18 - Sep 16, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    Most (not all) players are wusses today in all pro sports.

    They are entitled, think they are better than they are, want more money and playing time then their performance warrants and on and on…

  6. beach305 - Sep 16, 2013 at 9:59 PM

    He wouldn’t be the first x-nba player who has failed as a coach.

  7. ProBasketballPundit - Sep 16, 2013 at 10:29 PM

    Women are different. They need a didactic person in their life to look up to and strive to make them proud.

    • badintent - Sep 16, 2013 at 11:49 PM

      Kim looked up ….. and shallow. Then looked up …all the way to Kris and said, “did I make you proud ? I am “

  8. eugenesaxe1 - Sep 17, 2013 at 4:03 PM

    Wondered why the guy never got a shot with his credentials. Guess I have my answer.

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