Former Las Vegas Aces coach Bill Laimbeer says his coaching career is over but doesn’t rule out a future in basketball


Former Las Vegas Aces coach Bill Laimbeer says his coaching career is over but doesn't rule out a future in basketball

Although Bill Laimbeer isn’t completely ruling out a role in basketball in the future, the former Las Vegas Aces coach said Saturday that he was sure of one thing.

“I’m never going to train again,” Laimbeer said in a video call with Las Vegas media before the Aces hosted Phoenix. “I just don’t have that kind of energy. I don’t have that willpower. It’s an all consuming thing.

“I don’t know if I’ll take part in basketball in the future. It’s too early to tell. I just had six months off. I’ve never spent a summer on my Michigan farm. So I’m looking forward to it. At the moment I don’t really have a handle on what the future will bring. I have fun. I am relaxed.”

Laimbeer, who celebrated his 65th birthday Thursday, played in the NBA from 1980-81-93-94, spending all but the first two seasons with the Detroit Pistons. In 2002, he served as mid-season head coach of the Detroit Shock of the WNBA and led the team to their first of three WNBA titles in 2003. The Shock also won the championship in 2006 and 2008.

He remained with the Shock until he left early in the 2009 season and took an assistant job with the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves. From 2012 to 2017, he returned to the WNBA as the head coach of the New York Liberty.

When the San Antonio franchise moved to Las Vegas beginning with the 2018 season, Laimbeer took over as coach of the team – renamed the Aces – and has led it for the past four seasons. That included a trip to the 2020 WNBA Finals.

The Aces had the second-best record in the WNBA last season but lost to Phoenix in the semifinals. Laimbeer said he was ready to leave coaching but felt he needed to return for 2022.

“It was a simple decision, but difficult to implement,” said Laimbeer. “Last year it was clear to me – and I think some players too – that I was running out of energy.

Despite this, he told the Aces players in their exit interviews after last season that he would return. But he encouraged new team president Nikki Fargas to start looking for his replacement. And when former WNBA player Becky Hammon was mentioned, Laimbeer was hopeful.

“I said [Fargas]”Our franchise is very well known and we’re still in our infancy…get someone with high-profile basketball credibility,'” Laimbeer said. “She brought up Becky’s name and I said, ‘Absolutely, that would be a wonderful thing for this franchise and it would give me the opportunity to go to another country and not have to worry about this basketball team anymore. I didn’t think it would happen, but it did.”

Laimbeer said he was happy to be able to leave as he did.

“Most of the time, when coaches leave, they get fired because they suck or because they leave a bad team,” he said. “I was lucky enough to pass the exam [torch] to a top-class youth coach with a very good basketball team. So she’s immediately set for success.”

The Aces went 5-1 into their game against Phoenix as Hammon – who was an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs for eight years – got off to a strong start.

“I’m just sitting here watching the good things that are happening with this franchise,” Laimbeer said. “I like the way they play.”

Laimbeer worked as a general manager along with coaching while he was in Detroit and New York. When asked what he was most proud of from his time in the WNBA, Laimbeer said he influenced the style of play, free reign and rule changes. He also believes Las Vegas helped improve the WNBA All-Star Game by hosting it in 2019 and 2021.

“Nothing changes dramatically in one fell swoop,” said Laimbeer. “It talks to the league all the time and nudges them. Just being part of the team that made it happen [this league] to where it is today.”

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