NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 16, 2017 – WNBA legend Katie Smith has been named head coach of the New York Liberty, Team President Isiah Thomas announced today.
One of the most decorated players in the history of the women’s game, Smith becomes the 7th head coach in franchise history. Smith retired following the 2013 season in New York, and spent the last four years as an assistant coach with the Liberty, having been promoted to Associate Head Coach prior to the 2016 season. She takes over for Bill Laimbeer, who served as Liberty head coach for the last five seasons, guiding the team to a 92-78 (.541) record, including 3-straight WNBA Playoffs appearances.
“It is a privilege to have the opportunity to promote Katie Smith – unquestionably one of the best to ever play the game of basketball – to head coach of the New York Liberty,” Thomas said. “Katie has transitioned from an all-time great player to phenomenal coach during her time with the Liberty, which has included the most successful stretch of basketball in franchise history. Katie’s leadership, dedication, and acumen make her the ideal coach to lead our team as we continue to strive towards the ultimate goal of bringing our fans and the city of New York a WNBA Championship.
“I want to thank my teammate and friend Bill Laimbeer for everything he has done in guiding the New York Liberty over the previous five years,” said Thomas. “Bill is one of the finest coaches in our league’s history, and has done an outstanding job in establishing the Liberty as a perennial WNBA championship contender. We wish Bill all the best in the next stage of his career. He will always be a part of the Liberty family.”
“I am excited for this opportunity to continue to work with the amazing women of the New York Liberty in a new role,” said Smith. “I want to thank James Dolan, Isiah Thomas, and Madison Square Garden for entrusting me to lead this team, along with Bill Laimbeer for all that he did to bring me along over the past four seasons, and prepare me to become a head coach in the WNBA. I am grateful to have the opportunity to take on this next challenge in my career.”
Following a 17-year professional basketball career, including 15 seasons in the WNBA, Smith retired following the 2013 season with the Liberty as the all-time leading scorer in women’s professional basketball history, scoring 7,885 points. She was a seven-time All-Star and two-time First Team All-WNBA selection, winning WNBA Championships in 2006 and 2008 with the Detroit Shock.
During the WNBA’s 20th season in 2016, Smith was voted as one of the top-20 best and most influential players in league history. Her success extended to the international level, having won three Olympic Gold Medals in 2000, 2004 and 2008, and FIBA World Championships in 1998 and 2002.
Since Smith joined the coaching staff prior to the 2014 season, the Liberty has an 81-55 (.596) overall record, including 66-36 (.647) over the past three seasons, posting 3-consecutive 20-plus win seasons for the 1st time in franchise history, with 3-straight trips to the postseason.
The Liberty has led the WNBA in rebounding and defensive field goal percentage in each of the last three campaigns, while forward Tina Charles has become the 1st player in franchise history to earn 3-consecutive All-WNBA 1st Team accolades.