Is Bill Laimbeer NBA coaching material?
Thanks to Minnesota Timberwolves Coach Kurt Rambis, we'll find out. Laimbeer's former NBA nemesis did what Joe Dumars wouldn't do and that's give the former bad boy a job at professional basketball's highest level in the coaching ranks.
Laimbeer should also thank Charles Barkley with an engraved Christmas Card for his endorsement and ending his frustration because Barkley felt that he would be an excellent coach and deserved a chance due to the fact that he has an excellent basketball mind.
To win three championships in seven years with the WNBA's Detroit Shock is a nice accomplishment. Winning a championship at any level is something that no executive should overlook.
One Minnesota player who should benefit by Laimbeer's presence is 6-10, 260 pound Kevin Love. This kid will work with one of the most hated players in NBA history and will now get a chance to work with him and develop an inside game. Laimbeer was not only a fine outside shooter but excellent defender and rebounder.
Love may end up changing his name to "Kevin Hate" once Laimbeer gets through transforming him into a hardnosed player. If Love wants a little insight as to the type of player and person is, guard Chucky Atkins, a former Piston found out first hand being in the Detroit organization, who got to know Laimbeer as a broadcaster.
But I do give Rambis a lot of credit for making this hire. He put his personal feelings aside to work with a guy that could indeed make him a better coach.
Rambis also hired former Sacramento Kings Coach Reggie Theus as an assistant. These three coaches were outstanding players in the NBA and will have little trouble commanding respect from this young team.
For Minnesota fans, it's been an interesting few weeks as the Vikings signed long time Green Bay Packers rival Brett Favre to attempt to lead them to a Super Bowl.
Is Minnesota big enough for Favre and Laimbeer? We'll find out.
The University of Minnesota turned out to be a good fit for former Kentucky basketball coach Tubby Smith, who has compiled a 42-25 record with the Gophers in two seasons and isn't working in the Wildcats pressure cooker where he was 263-83 in 10 years with a national title.
This area will have plenty of great basketball minds.
Ironically, Laimbeer's Shock assistant and fellow bad boy Rick Mahorn was selected by the Timberwolves in the expansion draft and never played a minute in the Twin Cities. But for Laimbeer, there must be a sense of relief that even the worst personality on the planet had at least a few admirers to get him back in the NBA just weeks before training camp for the 2009-2010 season.
There was a time when Laimbeer used to have court side seats at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Now he'll have a different vantage point on the visitors bench and the first time he'll occupy a seat is a pre-season game Oct 22. You can bet he won't get a Valentines Card from the Pistons fans when the Timberwolves make their lone regular season appearance at the Palace on February 16th.
But with all due respect, Laimbeer should get a warm reception. It's not like he didn't want to work for the Pistons. The Pistons simply didn't want him roaming their sidelines in street clothes. I'd be curious to see what signs are made and to see how he's treated.
Again, Bill, you should get together with Barkley because he's probably the best friend you never thought you'd have. You can also give an assist to ESPN's Outside The Lines for making your coaching job struggles public. The Timberwolves had to be watching that segment and made a few calls to Brenden Suhr and Barkley thus you're back in business. You should be thankful that working at ESPN on NBA telecasts showed your intelligence off the court.
If Michael Vick can get a fresh start in Philadelphia for dogfighting, then you deserve a chance to help the Timberwolves finally achieve long term success on the floor. But whatever you do Bill, don't mention the fact that Notre Dame ended UCLA's record 88-game winning streak. Kevin Love will hate you for that then again, if you make him an All-Star and NBA Champion, he might let that slide.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org