Bill Laimbeer was quick to deflect his success this season as the WNBA coach of the year to his staff and players.
“It really is the coaching staff of the year,” the New York Liberty coach said Thursday night. “That’s what I told the players. My name happens to be the name stuck up on it, but they are the reason I won. We have an unbelievable staff.”
It’s the second time that Laimbeer was honored as the league’s top coach, also winning it when he was in charge of Detroit in 2003. Laimbeer is the fourth coach to win the award at least twice. Van Chancellor won it in the league’s first three years. Mike Thibault was also honored three times and Dan Hughes twice.
The Liberty’s coach received 23 votes from a national panel of 39 writers and broadcasters. Indiana coach Stephanie White finished second with seven votes and Tulsa’s Fred Williams was third with six.
Laimbeer helped guide New York to a team-record 23 wins and the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. The award capped off an interesting year for Laimbeer. He parted ways with New York last October when the team missed the playoffs for the second straight year, but the Liberty brought him back in January.
“I take pride in the fact that I knew the direction we had to go and what the team had to look like and we were able to put that together,” he said. “We got here fast and we didn’t think we’d be here this fast. I see a lot of similarities between this team and the one that won the title in Detroit in 2003.”
The Liberty have built a solid team to make a run not only now, but also for the future, acquiring Epiphanny Prince in the offseason as well as drafting stellar rookies Brittany Boyd and Kiah Stokes.
“We made a lot of changes and we built a team that we thought would be good today and in the future,” Laimbeer said. “The fans will be able to enjoy this team for a long time.