Bill Laimbeer’s Father Sent Him a Humbling Message Upon Entering the NBA

Future Detroit Pistons legend Bill Laimbeer had reason to jump for joy when he reached the NBA.

When a player is drafted or signs their first professional contract, it officially marks the culmination of a long journey. They have taken a monumental step in fulfilling their childhood dreams of reaching the pros.

Laimbeer’s father was happy for him, but William Laimbeer, Sr., still had the edge over his son.

Bill Laimbeer’s father sent him a humbling message

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For many professional athletes, their first contract is the gateway to a new world beyond their uniforms and teammates.

The money those players get, even with all that they lose from taxes and fees, is still a life-changing amount. Bill Laimbeer wasn’t one of those players, though, as his father was an executive with Owens-Illinois, a company that produces glass containers and paper products. 

According to Sports Illustrated, Laimbeer Jr. used to claim, “I’m the only player in the NBA who makes less money than his father.” In ESPN’s Bad Boys documentary, Laimbeer said he made less money in his rookie season with the Cavaliers than his father did at his job.

Such are the facts that come with growing up around money as the Laimbeer family did. But if anyone in the NBA believed Laimbeer’s affluent childhood would make him spoiled or unwilling to fight, they were in for a surprise.

Laimbeer nonetheless became a Detroit Pistons legend

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The Detroit Pistons were glad they had Bill Laimbeer, and other teams were angry they had to go against the star center.

A notoriously physical big man who never backed down from a fight, Laimbeer averaged 13.5 points and 10.1 rebounds in 937 games across 13 seasons with the Pistons from the spring of 1982 through early in the 1993-94 campaign.

Laimbeer appeared in four All-Star Games and won two rings with the Pistons. Some of Laimbeer’s most memorable moments include fighting the likes of the Celtics and the Bulls in brawls that could get quite nasty.

How much money did Bill Laimbeer make in the NBA?

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Bill Laimbeer made good money for his time, although it’s nothing compared to what the league’s top players make now. 

According to Basketball-Reference, Laimbeer made $7.8 million from 1984-1994. Signing a five-year contract worth $3.5 million in June 1984 certainly helped Laimbeer’s bank account. 

According to the Inflation Calculator, the $500,000 that Lambier earned in 1984 is worth over $1.265 million in 2021. 

Laimbeer has also benefited financially from being a longtime WNBA coach. Through the end of the 2020 season, Laimbeer — who currently coaches the Las Vegas Aces — is 282-207 in parts of 16 seasons as a WNBA head coach, and he won three titles with the Detroit Shock from 2002-09.

All stats and contract figures courtesy of Basketball-Reference.