New York Liberty General Manager and Head Coach Bill Laimbeer recapped his week-long December visit to New York City, from his reception at the Knicks-Nuggets game to a Holiday Party with Liberty season ticket holders and an adventurous first-time ride on the New York subway system.
I have traveled to New York City on a number of occasions during my career both as a player and coach but this trip to the Big Apple was very different than the past. Aside from wearing enemy colors and now joining the Madison Square Garden family, I got an opportunity to see what really makes this city and people who live here special. You commonly hear that New York City is a tough place for sports figures, but what you dont hear is that toughness is born from their fans passion for their teams and players. They want Champions! And will accept nothing short.
At a question and answer session with Allan Houston (New York Knicks Assistant GM, who also oversees Liberty basketball operations), and former Liberty greats Kym Hampton (New York Liberty Community Relations & Field Marketing Specialist) and Teresa Weatherspoon, the season ticket holders made their voices clear. Those same sentiments were being echoed at various events throughout the week, from the Holiday Party at Dave & Busters to a viewing party for the Knicks-Nets game as well as a lunch party with prospective season ticket holders at The Garden.
The first thing I always heard was: Man, I used to HATE you when you were with the Detroit Shock! But Im so glad youre here! The second was, the fans want a Championship and they see something special in the works and they are on board. A Championship is my end goal. Its all I know. I won as a player with the Pistons and as coach with the Shock so it was great to see that we are all on the same page.
I also had the chance to meet with some familiar faces from the WNBA and womens basketball while I was in town. Renee Brown (Chief of Basketball Operations), Laurel Richie (President, WNBA) and Val Ackerman (former President, WNBA) were in attendance for the Maggie Dixon Classic. It was nice to reconnect and catch up. In addition, I met with heads of womens basketball in the BIG EAST and ACC Conferences.
The events of the week included a trip to the MSG Training Center and I was very impressed by what I saw. The facility is first-class, and hands down the best in the league. I also took my first-ever NYC subway ride which turned out to be quite the adventure. What started out as a short trip to Brooklyn turned into an hour-long journey that involved switching trains and a lesson in patience. Needless to say, the return trip to Manhattan involved a cab ride and took a fraction of the time.
I also had the opportunity to attend a couple Knicks games while in New York. The first was the Knicks-Nuggets game and my introduction to the arena crowd on Gardenvision was met with a smattering of boos - less than I thought - but once I put on a Knicks hat it seemed to smooth things over. All the stars came out for the Knicks-Lakers game. I went around meeting with sponsors, said hi to Jesse Jackson, got a hug from NBA Commissioner David Stern and said hi Adam Silver, the future NBA Commissioner. I then took my seat and watched the Knicks STOMP the Lakers!
New York City is a tough town, the people here work hard and thats something I take great pride in as well. I want to build a team that is tough, tenacious and works hard on both ends of the floor. The biggest compliment from fans would be for them to say that we have a squad that reflects the mentality of this city.