"Bad Boys" Reunite as Shock Coaches
Detroit Shock Head Coach Bill Laimbeer announced that teammate, friend and foe Rick Mahorn was added to the Shock coaching staff as an assistant on Thursday, January 6. The two have been on almost similar paths to get to this point.
Laimbeer, who was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers as the 65th overall pick in 1979, spent the better part of his 14-year NBA career with the Pistons from 1982-1994. He joined the Pistons as a television color commentator in 2001 and was hired to the Shock staff the following year as the team�s special consultant. Not long after, Laimbeer was named head coach after the Shock got off to a 0-10 start. The announcement was made on June 19, 2002.
Laimbeer guided the Shock to a respectful 8-7 finish in 2002, but they finished in last place with a 9-23 record. It was the following year that Laimbeer put the Shock on the map. The Shock went from worst to first in 2003, finishing with a 25-9 record and winning the WNBA Championship.
Mahorn, who was drafted by the Washington Bullets (now Wizards) as the 35th overall pick in 1980, played 18 years in the NBA with four different teams (Washington, Detroit, Philadelphia and New Jersey). He spent two stints with Detroit. His first began when the Pistons acquired him from Washington in exchange for Dan Roundfield on June 17, 1985.
Following the 1989 Championship season, Mahorn was left unprotected by Detroit and was selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 1989 NBA Expansion Draft. Mahorn never suited up for the Timberwolves and ended up in a Philadelphia 76ers uniform the following season.
Mahorn found himself back in a Pistons uniform, signing as a free agent on August 5, 1996 and would play for two more seasons before retiring. He started coaching in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) as head coach of the Rockford Lightning in 1999-00, guiding the Lightning to a 15-7 record and the American Conference Title. Mahorn was recognized with two CBA Coach of the Month Awards. From there, Mahorn was back in the NBA as an assistant coach for the Atlanta Hawks during the 2001-02 season. Mahorn made it back to Detroit in 2002, joining the Pistons radio broadcasts as a color analyst. Now, he is with the Shock.
Although players, TV/radio commentators and now coaches, Laimbeer and Mahorn always didn�t see eye-to-eye. They were teammates from 1985 to 1989, but were not friends right off the bat.
�We have strong personalities, and I�ll tell you that when I first got to Detroit with Laimbeer and I, I didn�t like him,� stated Mahorn. �I can tell you that personally I didn�t like him. But as the years went on and we started sharing a lot of the experiences where he came from where I came from, it came together. I mean, trust me, it was a friendship.�
Mahorn would not listen to his teammates.
�Lamb (Laimbeer) would say things and at first, I was like, �I�m not listening to you. I�ll listen to what (head coach) Chuck Daly has to say, but I am not listening to you.'"
As time passed though, Mahorn started to understand what winning was all about.
�I learned as time went on that the team concept was the most important thing.�
�Lamb would say we need to win the Eastern Conference to get to the Finals. We did that. He then said we need to have the best record in the league to win the whole thing.�
A bond started to grow between them on and off the court.
�We had lockers next to each other, we sat next to each other on the plane,� explained Mahorn. �We talked about everything. We discussed the death penalty, why he or she is Democrat or Republican, we talked about a lot of things.�
It was through winning where Mahorn and Laimbeer developed their long-lasting friendship.
�Lamb would say it (the NBA Championship) means nothing now, but 10 years from now it will mean something. And he was right. When you come back for those reunions, you realize what you achieved back then.
�I think when I got left unprotected, it hurt him more than it hurt me. I was like it is okay. But, when you have that kind of respect for a person and confidence in that person, you don�t clash as long as you respect each other.�
Coaching has been something two talked about even during their playing days. So when Laimbeer looked to add another assistant to the Shock bench, he did not have to look far. Mahorn helps out the marketing department at The Palace when he is not broadcasting alongside partner George Blaha. He even plays basketball with some of the Shock players at the practice facility during the offseason, so he has been around them and knows them already. Mahorn was also a color analyst for the Shock during their inaugural season in 1998.
�He lives in Detroit, he is already a member of the Palace Sports & Entertainment family, and he is a big supporter of the WNBA,� said Laimbeer. �Our players all love him. He has been around them for quite a period of time now and they think he�s great. He has a great relationship with all of them, as well as, and more importantly, he has a great relationship with me."
�Lamb knew that I wanted to be a coach and we have been talking about coaching for some years now," said Mahorn. "There have always been things that Lamb has kept me a part of. We were talking about during our careers and then during our post-careers. But, I did double-digit years and once his career stopped he ventured forth and did what he needed to get done. He was still that friend and that friendship has always been there.
�Lamb has been a strong supporter of whatever I did. He�s always been there for me.�