Bill Laimbeer has had tremendous success at the WNBA level, leading the Detroit Shock to three titles in his time as head coach. However, he abruptly announced his retirement from the sport (or at least the women’s side of it) recently.
And he talked about his retirement on WDFN, discussing whether or not he was heading to the NBA, why he didn’t make the move sooner and whether or not he thinks the WNBA can actually survive. Yes, I passed on quite a few WNBA jokes when creating this post.
On how he knew now was the time to leave the WNBA for a potential NBA job:
“Well, it’s kinda been coming. A couple years ago I felt that it might be time to move on and each year it got worse. But I guess at the end of the day also is I feel like I wanted to go and try the NBA and get over and see if I can be successful on the men’s side. And it was becoming clear that I needed to get over there in order to get any head coaching opportunities and make a commitment to the men’s side.”
On why he didn’t make the move before now:
“Well, that’s the whole thing. That’s why I keep saying to myself, over the past few years, “Is it that time to move on?” And the answer always came back, no not yet. I enjoy doing what I’m doing and I’ve been learning a lot, a whole lot. Not only about coaching but also about myself. But at some point I have to make that commitment and sever the ties because I can’t openly say that I want to go to the NBA and still coach the team. It’d be like telling your boss, “Thanks for the paycheck but I really want to go someplace else and as soon as I get a job I’m outta here.”
On if he’s leaving because the WNBA might not survive:
“No, not at all. That’s the farthest thing from anything. I don’t think it’s going to go anywhere. There may be some team movement here and there, but it’s pretty solid. The players are pretty good, they play a great brand of basketball, they have a very loyal core following that is something to build upon that’s not going to go away. Every league right now is going to experience some financial hardships, there’s no question about that, and the WNBA is no exception being the youngest one of the bunch. No, but it’s going to survive. The who, what, where, how it’s going to be looking like in a couple years, that’s open for debate. But I do not anticipate it going away at all.”