When is comes to NBA villains, I don’t think they come any bigger than Bill Laimbeer. He was passionately disliked by not only NBA fans, but NBA players a like. There was however one place that Laimbeer was loved, and that was the city of Detroit. Laimbeer was drafted with the 65th pick of the 1979 draft, by the Cleveland Cavaliers. His rookie season produced 11.6 points-per game and 10.1 rebounds. His second season would see those numbers increase, and he caught the eye of another NBA team in the league.
The Detroit Pistons were looking for some more grunt and physicality, and that is exactly what they saw in the raw Laimbeer. They managed to acquire him in a trade at the end of the 1982 season. Laimbeer would make an immediate impact becoming an All-Star in his first season at the Pistons. He worked perfectly with the teams new point guard, a man by the name of Isiah Thomas. Laimbeer was a competitive beast, and would lead the league in rebounds in 1986. He appeared in the total of 4 All-Star games and consistently put of double-doubles for the Pistons.
Two things you can’t deny about Bill Laimbeer, was his toughness and durability. An example of this was the fact that he played in 10 straight seasons for the Pistons, where he only missed a total of 3 regular season games. Statistically Laimbeer’s best season came during the 1985-86 season where he averaged 16.6 points per game and 13.1 rebounds. Laimbeer also started to become a 3-point threat as his career progressed, which was impressive for a man who stood at 6-11 and weighed 111 kg. His career 3-point percentage was 32%. His field goal percentage was an impressive 49%.
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One thing that Bill Laimbeer developed across his NBA career was the reputation for being a thug. Players and fans alike would consider him a dirty player, who was ruining the game of basketball. Did that bother Laimbeer? No! He embraced the role of the villain, along with his teammates which brought on the inception of the name ‘Bad Boys’. Bill Laimbeer would show no mercy on the basketball court. You would have to earn every point when you lined up against the Detroit Pistons. This style would help see the Pistons win back to back NBA championships in 1989 and 1990. They remain in infamy as the ‘Bad Boy’s’ and Laimbeer was a huge part of their legacy. Love him or hate him, Bill Laimbeer was an icon of the game. Loved by his fans and teammates, and loathed by the rest. As a basketball player, Laimbeer’s stats stack up as a very solid NBA player, who was rebounding machine and a constant double-double performer.
Bill Laimbeer was a 4 x All-Star.
Bill Laimbeer currently coaches the New York Liberty in the WNBA.