Who’d have imagined back in Bill Laimbeer’s days as a fixture for a pair of Detroit Pistons championship squads, he and teammate Rick Mahorn would someday turn Motown’s WNBA entry to one of the league’s most successful (titles in ’03 and ’06, a 4-0 start to begin the 2007-’08 campaign)? From the New York Times’ Jere Longman

In guiding the Shock to W.N.B.A. titles in 2003 and 2006 as the coach and general manager, Laimbeer has created a perpetual locker-room ambience. The idea is to deflate cliques and to let players be themselves while channeling their inner Bad Girls. Shock practices are full of mocking, teasing and casual profanity. Even the names of some inbounds plays are not suitable for children under 17. As long as it is not personal, anyone can say anything to anybody.

œIt doesn™t bother us that our players have an edge to them, Laimbeer said.

œFunctionally dysfunctional, is how the team spokesman John Maxwell jokingly refers to the Shock. In this environment, the versatile forward Swin Cash is called Crackhead by Mahorn for what he perceives as her occasional aimlessness. Fair game are Laimbeer™s style of walking (œOn his toes, like the Flintstones, guard Elaine Powell said.) and his favored wardrobe of short-shorts and boating shirts (œOne of his pants are so tight they look like leg warmers, Cash said).

During the preseason, guard Shannon Johnson had a stomach virus and pulled a blanket over her head to take a nap in the airport in Dallas. Big mistake. When she awakened, Mahorn and others had thrown a few bucks into a change cup and Johnson™s teammates had fashioned signs that said, œWill Shoot for Food and œWar Veteran ” AWOL.

At practice May 29, Laimbeer was seeking to name an inbounds play. Essentially, he was trying to get his players ” especially Cash ” to yell something outrageous or raunchy. This play, he wanted to call œYo™ Mama. Finally, Laimbeer settled on something vulgar, but Cash, as always, refused to say anything crude.

œI™m not going to the dark side, she told him.