By Kate Fagan
Bill Laimbeer wants to know if I've seen the movie "A Few Good Men."
"Of course," I say. "Who hasn't?"
We are sitting in a conference room at the Madison Square Garden Training Center, in Tarrytown, N.Y., about 25 miles north of the real MSG. The 6-foot-11 Laimbeer, who is in his first season as head coach and general manager of the New York Liberty, leans so far back in his chair that he's almost parallel to the ground, the spine of the chair straining from the effort. With a gentle flick of his right wrist, he spins an orange-and-cream-colored basketball into the air, catches it, and softly launches it again.
"He's Tom Cruise," says Liberty assistant coach Taj McWilliams-Franklin.
"And this is my bat," Laimbeer says, holding the WNBA ball in his palm, underhand, as if offering it to me. Then he tosses it off the white wall and catches it. (In the movie, Cruise's character does his best thinking when holding a baseball bat.)
"He freaks out if the ball isn't somewhere in the room," says Barb Farris, the Liberty's other assistant coach. She and McWilliams-Franklin played for Laimbeer with the Detroit Shock.
Laimbeer is at the head of the conference table, occasionally leaning forward to scribble reminders for practice ("360-degree jump passes -- NO!") or diagrams of plays on the large dry-erase board. On the table is the scouting report for the Indiana Fever, the Liberty's opponent the next evening, in a mid-July matchup of struggling Eastern Conference teams trying to stay in the playoff race.
The door of the meeting room is open, and players wander past as they arrive for practice, some stopping to say hello. After each brief interruption, Laimbeer and his staff return to the task at hand, dissecting the team's deficiencies and singling out some of those very same players. "We don't have enough of them who can think the game," he says.
The 56-year-old talks about hoops as if he invented it, as if everyone views basketball the way he does: in slow motion. When watching film or practice, he easily untangles the cluster of motion and spots the moment when it all falls apart. ("Right there! Why are we trailing that cross-screen?!") Or when it clicks. ("See? We're most efficient when we get her that pick on the wing.")
--To continue reading this story from espnW.com, please click here: The Feminization of Bill Laimbeer.