The news last December that Becky Hammon would be the Las Vegas Aces new coach took the basketball world by storm, because longtime coach Bill Laimbeer had never announced that he was leaving.
Last Saturday Laimbeer put any speculation to rest, as he explained that he was retiring from coaching because he felt it was time.
“It was an easy decision, but it was hard to implement,” he said. “Last year, it was clear to myself, and I think some of the players, that I was running out of energy. I had just run my course in the coaching ranks.”
Laimbeer said that after the Aces lost in the playoffs, he told his players that he would return to coach in 2022. At the same time, he told team president Nikki Fargas to start looking for another coach.
“I mentioned to Nikki that, you know, I have a forced into doing it, I’ll do it, and I think it’s the wrong move,” he said. “But I encouraged her to go out and to find my replacement.”
Laimbeer was willing to help in the process of hiring the next coach and help with other things.
“I gave her some guidance of you know who I’d like to see,” he said. “Our franchise is very high-profile, and we’re still in our infancy stage, (so) to get somebody with high-profile basketball credibility. Someone who’s very driven for success.”
Fargas suggested Hammon.
“I said, absolutely, that would be a wonderful thing for this franchise,” Laimbeer said.
He made it clear that he was retiring for good.
“I’m not ever going to coach again,” Laimbeer said. “I just don’t have that kind of energy. I don’t have that willpower. It’s an all-consuming thing.”
Laimbeer coached a total of 17 seasons in the WNBA – first for the Detroit Shock, where he guided the team to three Championships. He also coached the New York Liberty before coming to the Aces in 2018. He retires with a 521-215 record, and was league coach of the year in 2003 and 2015.