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News » Laimbeer, Theus join T'Wolves staff

Laimbeer, Theus join T'Wolves staff

Laimbeer, Theus join T'Wolves staff
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Kurt Rambis and Bill Laimbeer were perhaps the two biggest agitators on the court when the Los Angeles Lakers and Detroit Pistons went at each other in the 1980s.

Now the blue collar of those glitzy "Showtime" Lakers and the lead intimidator of Detroit's feared "Bad Boys" are teaming up to try and turn around one of the NBA's most downtrodden franchises.

Rambis announced Thursday that Laimbeer, former Sacramento head coach Reggie Theus and former Celtics assistant GM Dave Wohl will serve under him as assistants on the Minnesota Timberwolves. J.B. Bickerstaff also will be retained from Kevin McHale's staff.

Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn hired Rambis earlier this month to help revive a team that has only advanced out of the first round of the playoffs once in its 20-year history. Rambis has assembled an ambitious staff long on experience - and ego - to help make that happen.

"They're all personalities in their own right and aren't afraid to let me know when I'm doing something wrong, which was a key aspect of their hire," Rambis said. "I did not want people who were just yes men. I wanted them to have their own opinions and to be strong in their convictions."

That won't be a problem for Laimbeer, who gained plenty of enemies during a 13-season career as one of the biggest villains in the league. He also racked up plenty of victories and statistics. The four-time All-Star helped the Pistons to three straight NBA Finals appearances.

Rambis and the Lakers beat Laimbeer's Pistons in 1988, but Detroit bounced back to win the next two titles.

After dabbling in the business world, Laimbeer became coach and GM of the WNBA's Detroit Shock in 2002. He turned around one of the league's worst teams and made the Shock a three-time champion before stepping down in June to pursue a job in the NBA.

Kahn interviewed Laimbeer for the head coaching position that eventually went to Rambis. In a surprising move, Laimbeer decided to take a job working under Rambis after losing out on the position he really wanted.

"I like the guy," Laimbeer said. "He's well prepared and is a lot like me, which surprised me. He's a Laker. I'm a Piston.

"He speaks his mind, honest, blunt, sarcastic. Ditto. I thought it was a good fit and we're going to zing each other but it'll be fun. The bottom line is that he's very competitive and wants to win, and that's my nature."

Laimbeer wasn't so open-minded during his playing days. He said the years away from the bench - and his experience with the Shock - have helped him mellow and he expected to provide "comic relief" in Minnesota.

"I understand what the word patience means," Laimbeer said with a chuckle. "I don't have it, but I understand it and have learned to temper myself a bit."

The chemistry between all four men was evident Thursday. Many NBA coaches would be hesitant to fill their staffs with assistants who have designs on running their own teams one day. Rambis didn't flinch.

"I'm not intimidated by that and they're all very loyal people," Rambis said. "I do not worry about them being divisive along the way. I feel like I want them to have the aspirations to be head coach, and I'll do whatever I can along the way to help them achieve those goals. But like I told all of them, I want them to be head coaches, just not my job. Go get their own job."

Theus and Wohl both have had their own head jobs in the NBA before. Wohl coached the New Jersey Nets for two-plus seasons from 1985-88 and Theus was fired in December after just 106 games as coach of the Kings.

Theus averaged 18.5 points and 6.3 assists per game in 13 years as a player and is one of only seven players in league history to score at least 19,000 points and have at least 6,000 assists.

"With today's players street credit is important," Theus said. "I think that they've all seen or known someone who has seen us before, but walking in the door I think you have that credit. It gives you an upper hand in just building a relationship off the top."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: September 4, 2009


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