LAS VEGAS (May 16, 2022)—The Las Vegas Aces are hosting Bill Laimbeer Night this Thursday, May 19 as the team honors the legendary coach for his tremendous contributions to the Aces and the WNBA. Laimbeer will be in attendance as the Aces take on the Minnesota Lynx at Michelob ULTRA Arena beginning at 7 pm PT. Prior to the game, Laimbeer will meet with fans from 5-6 pm at Libertine Social at Mandalay Bay.
Laimbeer was the first person hired by MGM after they purchased the San Antonio Stars and moved them to Las Vegas. As the president of basketball operations and head coach, Laimbeer put together the team on the floor and behind the scenes that helped the Aces rise from WNBA also-rans to championship contenders.
In four years at the helm of the Aces, Laimbeer went 77-45, leading the team to three straight playoff appearances, and the 2020 WNBA Finals. Over his last three seasons on the sidelines, the former Detroit Pistons Bad Boy led Las Vegas to 63 regular season victories, which are the most in the league during that time span.
In his first year as head coach, Laimbeer drafted A’ja Wilson out of South Carolina with the overall number one draft pick. The 6-4 forward/center was named the 2018 Rookie of the Year Award, made three All-Star Teams, won the 2020 WNBA M’VP Award, and helped the US to the gold medal at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
The next season, Laimbeer used the first overall pick on Notre Dame alum Jackie Young. Young was named to the All-Rookie Team in 2019, and has improved her scoring and field goal percentage each year of her career, and has become one of the top guards in the league.
Kelsey Plum, Dearica Hamby and Kayla McBride, all of whom were with the franchise when the team was located in San Antonio, enjoyed the best years of their careers up to that point under Laimbeer’s tutelage. Laimbeer also helped land free agents Liz Cambage, Angel McCoughtry, and Chelsea Gray, all of whom helped the Aces to playoff appearances in each of their seasons with Las Vegas
Prior to joining the Aces, Laimbeer guided the New York Liberty to three straight 20-win seasons—the first time in franchise history the franchise reached the 20-win plateau in three consecutive years. His record in New York (2013-17) was 92-78, and he was named WNBA Coach of the Year in 2015.
Laimbeer’s first eight seasons in the WNBA (2002-09) were spent as general manager and head coach of the Detroit Shock (now Dallas Wings), where he earned WNBA Coach of the Year honors in his first full season (2003). He took over a team that finished 9-23 the previous year and led them to a league-best 25 wins and the WNBA Championship the following season. The 16-win improvement was the largest in WNBA history.
Laimbeer led the Shock to a 137-93 (.596) overall record, including six-straight playoff appearances as the squad won the WNBA Championship in 2003, 2006 and 2008.
As General Manager of the Shock, Laimbeer made several key moves that were integral in Detroit capturing three WNBA Championships, which still stands as second-most in league history. In his first full season, Laimbeer drafted former All-Star and 2003 Rookie of the Year Cheryl Ford. He also acquired the Finals MVP that year, Ruth Riley, in the WNBA dispersal
Laimbeer’s 306 career regular season wins, and 37 playoff victories are both the second most in league history. In 2020, he became the first coach in WNBA history to win at least 50 games with three different franchises.