Monday, June 15, 2009

Bill Laimbeer Press Conference Transcript

Bill Laimbeer | Craig Turnbull | Cheryl Reeve | Rick Mahorn

ďA long time ago, which was six-and-a-half years ago, Tom (Wilson) and I sat down and talked about the Detroit Shock and making a coaching change and if I would be interested in it. We spent a lot of time debating the plusses and minuses and I said I would do it. Everybody asks me if I thought I would have been here this long and I say Ďno, I didnítí but I wouldnít take any of it back. Itís been a great experience. Iíve had a lot of fun. I want to thank Tom and Mr. Davidson and all their support staff from Palace Sports and Entertainment for being by my side, and the Detroit Shockís side. All the way back to Kristen Bernert who came in with me - two new people trying to make a go of this thing. Iíve also had the best staff that anybody could ask for in Cheryl Reeve, Rick Mahorn and Laura Ramus. Itís been a lot of fun. I have the best players, both on and off the court; we have a lot of fun, which is what sports is all about. If you donít have fun you shouldnít be in it. The fans have been very supportive Ė not just of the Shock but also of myself. Thatís been a real good feel good thing myself. Iíve learned a lot being a coach. A whole lot. Not only about myself but also about the profession. Iíve learned that I can survive in a high-intensity environment with very strong-willed people and to work with them to get the job done. I pat myself on the back a little bit for that. Going in you never know and its worked out pretty good and Iíve enjoyed it. People ask if Iím sick. No, Iím not sick. Did I get another job? No, I didnít get another job. Itís just that time for me to go and do something different. I am going to pursue, somewhere down the road, an opportunity if it comes to me in the NBA. Thatís my goal. Thatís my passion. Hopefully sometime Iíll be able to get an opportunity. The best way to describe how I feel is when I talk to the media, whether it be ESPN or any other radio shows when I travel with the Shock, the question always comes to me at least once a week. Do you see yourself in the NBA? My answer has always been diplomatic. Iím having fun doing what Iím doing now but if it comes one day, great. The best way to say it now is yeah; I do want to go to the NBA. Assistant coach, head coach Ė thatís my passion, thatís my goal. When someone asks me the question I want to say yes. If the answer is yes how can I focus on being the head coach of the Detroit Shock when all my concentration and focus is elsewhere? Iíll be doing them a disservice; Iíll be doing myself a disservice and the organization. Thatís not who I am. It never has been who I am. Iím always 100% all-in with two feet, emotionally and physically and if Iím not able to do that then Iím not going to just get a paycheck. Iím going to go home. It was a good conversation I had with them a few moments ago. People will ask why now? I will tell them that I made a mistake starting the season. Thereís a lot of changes going on in the menís league and a lot of changes going on in our organization with Mr. Davidson and Chuck (Daly) being gone now. I thought I could do it and I realized after I started no. I feel bad about that. If I get hit by a truck Ė thatís our code word for going away. If I get hit by a truck - every decision has been made over the last six months concerning our basketball team has been openly talked about. At some point I thought it was going to be their show. This is not a surprise to them. Theyíre very capable moving forward and I wish them all the best.Ē

(On the viability of the league)
ďThis league is strong. The players are bigger, faster, stronger than ever before. This has nothing to do with the economic times at all. This has everything to do with me as a person looking at what my passion now is and where itís headed. I believe that there is no way this league is going away. Itís too entrenched and the players are too good. They work diligently all the time to maintain the viability of the league both on and off the court. The owners are committed. The league is committed. Every sport is under duress right now with the economic times. Iíve said before it will survive and it will be stronger.Ē

(On talking the Joe Dumars or the ownership about moving to the Pistons)
ďI havenít talked to the ownership. As far as talking to Joe Dumars yeah Iíve talked to Joe Dumars but itís more about opportunities elsewhere in the league. Whether it was feeling out what he thought I may have to do to get an opportunity someplace. Also is it my time? Weíve chatted a little bit about that too. He has staff in place and Iím looking for opportunities elsewhere.Ē (On if he has interviewed for a position)
ďI havenít interviewed with anybody. Iím doing what Iím doing. Iím in a situation if Iím doing what Iím doing Iím not committing myself to pursuing an NBA job. Iím not doing both. Itís unfair. Iíve went ahead to divest myself of one to pursue another. So now Iím divesting of the WNBA Iím going full speed on looking for opportunities in the NBA. I did that with Isiah many years ago and it was a tremendous distraction to our basketball team. I would never do that again. I have not to answer your question.Ē

(On being prepared for the grind of the NBA)
ďI made it clear that this is a full-time job. The WNBA is a shorter season. Thereís not as much of an off-season demand as in the menís side even. Itís a traveling, grueling, pressured nightmare. Nightmare is the wrong way to say it. Itís a very intense environment. Iím not tired of coaching; Iím not burned out. Itís the opposite. Iím prepared to move on with what Iíve learned of how I do and work with our players to see if I can be successful at a different level. Thatís what this is all about. Itís my time to see who I am and what I can do; can I be successful doing it?

ďThank you all for your support.Ē

ďThank you all. Bill said it well. Itís kind of a bittersweet date around here at Palace Sports and Entertainment. On behalf of Mrs. Davidson, Tom Wilson and the entire crew here weíre here to announce the leaving of one champion and two new champions heading the troops as we head out three games into the season. Weíre very anxious to see what weíve got next to us here and at the same time we know what weíve got. Theyíre a couple champions on the court who have helped guide us along the way. Rick (Mahorn) will assume the responsibilities and become head coach of the Detroit Shock and Cheryl Reeve, in an interesting position, will be the assistant coach and our general manager. Weíre all very anxious and excited about that part. Anxious in a positive way because Cheryl has served as our player personnel (director) and has absolutely shaped and molded what you see on the court today. When decisions are made on personnel they are done with all three staff members together and will continue with these two folks. Iíd like to introduce our new head coach Rick Mahorn and our new assistant coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve.

ďIím real excited. One of the reasons I came to this organization three years ago was the forward thinking nature of Bill Laimbeer and the rest of the Shock staff. Today we continue with that forward thinking. To have an assistant coach be a general manager to me is quite a vote of confidence. Iíve worked hard the last eight seasons in the WNBA to put myself in this position. Itís something Iíve really dove into and take great pride in. The coaching part I obviously enjoy but the general manager part of it is something thatís really exciting. The rest of the league is going whoa, assistant coach/general manager, I wish we had thought of that. Bill has groomed us for this day and weíre really excited to usher in this new era of Shock basketball.Ē

ďWhen I first took the assistant coach job with Bill weíd always converse every time about what do you want to do? Iíve learned so much from him and he will be missed because those are some big shoes to fill. Heís a three-time champion in the WNBA and a two-time champion in the NBA. Itís nice to have the pleasure to be with a guy that knew a lot about basketball. Like Cheryl said we worked together, we were groomed for this situation and now that the situation is here weíre going full speed ahead right now to make sure the Shock are those champions again.Ē

(On the transition)
ďIt will be easier. Weíve had these players, a couple of core players for three or four years. Right now theyíre looking forward to a new adventure to win a championship. Make sure that we come every day prepared; that weíre playing playoff games right now in the regular season to win championships every time we get on the floor. Weíre going to make sure we have all our players prepared what weíve done last year and the year in the past to keep this thing rolling.Ē

(On motivating the Shock)
ďWe look at it like this. When youíre hurt youíre still the Detroit Shock. No matter if youíre full strength or half strength you still have to go on the court and perform because nobody in this league and nobody in professional sports feels sorry for you because youíre hurt. Youíre the defending champions and they want to kick you while youíre down. One thing that that locker room that we posses is we have players that say no, weíre going out there to compete. Weíve lost a couple of games and we felt that we didnít play our best but we still have a lot of work to do to make sure weíre prepared. We want to win championships. Yeah, thatís the drive. We always want to win championships. We love them. Thatís the extra ring thatís on our finger that says we are the champions and we respect that and thatís what our jobs as coaches is going to be.Ē