Bill Fitch

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Bill Fitch
BornWilliam Charles Fitch
(1934-05-19) May 19, 1934 (age 78)
Davenport, Iowa
OccupationNCAA collegiate and NBA coach
Years active1956–1988 as coach
AwardsNBA Coach of the Year (1979–80)
Boston Celtics, NBA Champions (1980–81)
 
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Bill Fitch
BornWilliam Charles Fitch
(1934-05-19) May 19, 1934 (age 78)
Davenport, Iowa
OccupationNCAA collegiate and NBA coach
Years active1956–1988 as coach
AwardsNBA Coach of the Year (1979–80)
Boston Celtics, NBA Champions (1980–81)

William Charles "Bill" Fitch (born May 19, 1934) is an American former National Basketball Association (NBA) coach who has been successful in making teams playoff contenders throughout his coaching career. Before entering the professional ranks he coached college ball at the University of Minnesota, Bowling Green State University, the University of North Dakota, and his alma mater, Coe College. Fitch's teams twice qualified for the NCAA tournament.

Fitch was a U.S. Marine Corps drill instructor,[1] a fact that Larry Bird credited in his book Drive: The Story of My Life as an important reason for Bird's own strong work ethic.

Contents

Pro Coaching career

During his 25-year pro coaching career Fitch repeatedly was hired in an attempt to improve failing teams. As of 2004 Fitch ranked fifth among all NBA coaches in all-time number of victories (with 944) but also ranked second in all-time losses (with 1,106) behind Lenny Wilkens.

With Boston Celtics (1980–83), and Houston Rockets (1984–88)

He was awarded as the NBA's Coach of the Year Award twice and he guided Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish and the rest of the Boston Celtics to the 1981 NBA championship, defeating the Houston Rockets 4 games to 2 in the finals. From Boston, Fitch went on to coach the Rockets where he led a team featuring Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson to the 1986 NBA Finals where they were defeated once again by Bird's Celtics, 4 games to 2, for the NBA championship. Fitch also coached the Cleveland Cavaliers from its inception in 1970 to 1979, as well as New Jersey Nets and Los Angeles Clippers. In 1996 Fitch was named one of the NBA's Ten Greatest Coaches of All-Time.

The Miracle of Richfield Cavs' season (1975–76)

During his first year with the Cavaliers, the team lost its first 15 games. By the 1974–75 season the team would be led by its 1971 number one draft choice out of Notre Dame, Austin Carr. Carr had become the team's leading scorer and the franchise was flirting with its first-ever playoff berth when Carr came down with a serious knee injury, which all but vanquished its playoff hopes and its hopes for its first non-losing season, however, the team did still show promise posting a near-winning finish at 40–42.

The very next season, on a now fabled team known as "The Miracle of Richfield", and led by team captain Carr, scoring small forward Campy Russell, shooting guard Bobby "Bingo" Smith, and a supporting cast of largely unknown players such as starting center Jim Chones, and an aging Nate Thurmond, Fitch coached the overachieving[citation needed] Cavs to its first winning season, an almost unexpected playoff berth and the Central Division title with a record of 49–33, advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals against a heavily favored Boston Celtics team led by future Hall of Famers Dave Cowens, shooting guard John Havlicek, and All-Star point guard Jo Jo White. Perhaps because of a leg injury that sidelined Chones in Game 5, the Cavs would succumb to the eventual champion Celts, losing the series 4–2.

Coaching record

Legend
Regular seasonGGames coachedWGames wonLGames lostW–L %Win-loss  %
Post seasonPGPlayoff GamesPWPlayoff WinsPLPlayoff LossesPW–L %Playoff Win-loss  %
TeamYearGWLW–L%FinishPGPWPLPW–L%Result
CLE1970–71821567.1834th in CentralMissed Playoffs
CLE1971–72822359.2804th in CentralMissed Playoffs
CLE1972–73823250.3904th in CentralMissed Playoffs
CLE1973–74822953.3544th in CentralMissed Playoffs
CLE1974–75824042.4883rd in CentralMissed Playoffs
CLE1975–76824933.5981st in Central1367.462Lost in Conf. Finals
CLE1976–77824339.5244th in Central312.333Lost in First Round
CLE1977–78824339.5243rd in Central202.000Lost in First Round
CLE1978–79823052.3664th in CentralMissed Playoffs
BOS1979–80826121.7441st in Atlantic954.556Lost in Conf. Finals
BOS1980–81826220.7561st in Atlantic17125.706Won NBA Championship
BOS1981–82826319.7681st in Atlantic1275.583Lost in Conf. Finals
BOS1982–83825626.6832nd in Atlantic725.286Lost in Conf. Semifinals
HOU1983–84822953.3546th in MidwestMissed Playoffs
HOU1984–85824834.5852nd in Midwest523.400Lost in First Round
HOU1985–86825131.6221st in Midwest20137.650Lost in NBA Finals
HOU1986–87824240.5123rd in Midwest1055.500Lost in Conf. Semifinals
HOU1987–88824636.5614th in Midwest413.250Lost in First Round
NJN1989–90821765.2076th in AtlanticMissed Playoffs
NJN1990–91822656.3175th in AtlanticMissed Playoffs
NJN1991–92824042.4883rd in Atlantic413.250Lost in First Round
LAC1994–95821765.2077th in PacificMissed Playoffs
LAC1995–96822953.3547th in PacificMissed Playoffs
LAC1996–97823646.4395th in Pacific303.000Lost in First Round
LAC1997–98821765.2077th in PacificMissed Playoffs
Career20509441106.4601095554.505

Notes

  1. ^ Charley Rosen. "True tales from the camp fires". ESPN.com. http://espn.go.com/page2/s/rosen/021009.html. Retrieved 2006-12-22. 

External links