The New York Liberty are such a franchise. But the re-hiring of Bill Laimbeer as coach less than three months after he was fired by the organization is head-scratching even by Liberty standards.
Oh, wait a minute. Not really. This is the Liberty we’re talking about.
Let me make haste to say, though, I actually don’t think this is a bad decision at all. It’s correcting a bad decision, which was firing Laimbeer back in October without a really strong idea of whom the franchise could get to replace him.
From what I gather from sources around the league, Madison Square Garden Company chair James Dolan had some candidates in mind. But they didn’t work out. Now with the Knicks being the primo disaster of this NBA season, Dolan probably just wanted to get the Liberty job filled. And ultimately decided to go back to Laimbeer.
Who, apparently, wasn’t exactly stunned to get the call to return. Laimbeer was spending the winter fishing and playing golf. And while he wasn’t expecting to coach again in the WNBA this summer, he’s glad to be doing it.
“My passion is still there for the New York team,” Laimbeer said Thursday. “I’d like to accomplish more for this franchise.”
The Liberty were 11-23 and then 15-19 in Laimbeer’s two seasons, missing the playoffs both years. But Thursday, he repeated something he had also told me back in October when he was let go: That while he didn’t always enjoy his first season with the Liberty, this past season he really did like the job and working with the team. (Having a world-class center such as Tina Charles, whom the Liberty got in a trade before the 2014 season, undoubtedly helps in that regard.)
Laimbeer also said something else in October that seems pertinent to the Liberty’s reversal in course this week. He talked about the difference in working for the Detroit Shock, where he answered primarily to one person, then-owner Tom Wilson. As compared to working for a public corporation like MSG.
“They’ve got a lot of moving pieces,” Laimbeer said in October about MSG.
Indeed, they do. But from the Liberty’s inception in 1997 to 2010, Carol Blazejowski was the team’s general manager and front-office point person for the franchise. And while she took her share of barbs (including from me), at least you always knew whose hands were on the Liberty’s steering wheel.
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Liberty give Laimbeer another shot