Bill Laimbeer has resigned his position as the head coach of the defending WNBA champions Detroit Shock to pursue possibilities in the NBA. Rumors began circulating early Monday after the team told media that major coaching announcement would be held in the afternoon.
“It’s disappointing that Bill has decided to step down as head coach and general manager of the Detroit Shock,” said Tom Wilson, President and CEO of the Detroit Shock and Palace Sports and Entertainment. “But at the same time, Bill led the Shock to three WNBA Championships and a league-record 27 postseason victories during his seven-year tenure. We thank him for his guidance and dedication to the franchise and our organization.”
Laimbeer indicated that his decision to step down had nothing to do with rumors of the WNBA’s instability but with his desire to fully focus on opportunities in the NBA.
“This league is strong,” said Laimbeer of the WNBA. “This has nothing to do with the economic times at all; it has to do with me.”
He said that he believed that in no way was the WNBA going away because “the owners are committed and the league is committed.”
“Every sport is under duress with the economic times,” said Laimbeer. “It will survive and it will be stronger.”
Rick Mahorn, a former teammate of Laimbeer, takes over the head coach job. The other member of the Shock coaching team, Cheryl Reeve is serving her fourth season as assistant and will assume the duties of general manager.
Mahorn, who is serving his fifth season with the Shock, becomes the fourth head coach in Detroit’s 11-year history as a franchise. He has over 20 years of professional basketball experience, including a NBA Championship with the Pistons in 1989 and two WNBA Championships as an assistant coach with the Shock in 2006 and 2008.
“We are pleased to promote Rick Mahorn as head coach of the Detroit Shock,” said Wilson. “Rick has been vital to the success of the Shock over the last five seasons and we feel that the transition will be seamless. Rick has built tremendous relationships with the Shock players during his tenure and we feel that his championship goals for the franchise remain unchanged.”
In addition to her assistant coaching duties, Reeve also served the previous two seasons as Shock Director of Player Personnel and was heavily involved in the roster development of the current team. Reeve got her start in the WNBA with the Charlotte Sting in 2001 after serving as head coach at Indiana State from 1995-1999.
Laimbeer is the all-time winningest coach in the WNBA Playoffs with a 27-16 record. Detroit has won three WNBA Championships in the past six WNBA seasons (2003, 2006 and 2008) and played in three consecutive WNBA Finals
In his first full season as head coach Laimbeer led the Shock to a historic worst-to-first turnaround, for which he was named 2003 WNBA Coach of the Year. His regular season record is 137-91.
Laimbeer played for the Detroit Pistons from 1981-94 during the “Bad Boy” era. He helped the Pistons win back-to-back NBA championships in 1989 and 1990.
A four-time All-Star center (1983-85, 1987) Laimbeer led the entire NBA in rebounding during the 1985-86 season (13.1 rpg). His No. 40 became one of six jersey numbers retired by the Pistons on Feb. 4, 1995. He was named to the Pistons’ All-Time Team on Apr. 9, 2008.
The Shock are 1-2 so far this season. They play again Friday June 19 against the Indiana Fever (2-2).