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Bill Fitch

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Title: Bill Fitch  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: NBA Coach of the Year Award, Red Auerbach, 1986 NBA Finals, Phil Jackson, Tom Heinsohn
Collection: 1934 Births, Boston Celtics Head Coaches, Bowling Green Falcons Men's Basketball Coaches, Cleveland Cavaliers Head Coaches, Coe Kohawks Baseball Players, College Men's Basketball Head Coaches in the United States, College Men's Basketball Players in the United States, Creighton Bluejays Baseball Coaches, Creighton Bluejays Men's Basketball Coaches, Houston Rockets Head Coaches, Living People, Los Angeles Clippers Head Coaches, Minnesota Golden Gophers Men's Basketball Coaches, New Jersey Nets Head Coaches, People from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, People from Davenport, Iowa, Sportspeople from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Sportspeople from Davenport, Iowa, United States Marines, University of North Dakota Men's Basketball Coaches
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Bill Fitch

Bill Fitch
Sport(s) Basketball, baseball
Biographical details
Born (1934-05-19) May 19, 1934
Davenport, Iowa
Playing career
1950–1954 Coe
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1956–1958 Creighton (assistant)
1958–1962 Coe
1962–1967 North Dakota
1967–1968 Bowling Green
1968–1970 Minnesota
1970–1979 Cleveland Cavaliers
1979–1983 Boston Celtics
1983–1988 Houston Rockets
1989–1992 New Jersey Nets
1994–1998 Los Angeles Clippers
1957–1958 Creighton
Head coaching record
Overall 944–1106 (NBA regular season)
55–54 (NBA playoffs)
181–115 (college basketball)
26–7 (college baseball)
Accomplishments and honors
1 NBA (1981)
2x NBA Coach of the Year Award (1976, 1980)
Top Ten Coaches in NBA History

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. He won the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award for the 2012–13 NBA season.[1]

Fitch was a U.S. Marine Corps drill instructor,[2] 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.


  • Pro coaching career 1
    • With Boston Celtics (1980–83), and Houston Rockets (1984–88) 1.1
    • The Miracle of Richfield Cavs' season (1975–76) 1.2
  • Head coaching record 2
    • NBA 2.1
  • References 3
  • External links 4

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 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, small forward 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.

Head coaching record


Team Year G W L W–L% Finish PG PW PL PW–L% Result
Cleveland 1970–71 82 15 67 .183 4th in Central Missed Playoffs
Cleveland 1971–72 82 23 59 .280 4th in Central Missed Playoffs
Cleveland 1972–73 82 32 50 .390 4th in Central Missed Playoffs
Cleveland 1973–74 82 29 53 .354 4th in Central Missed Playoffs
Cleveland 1974–75 82 40 42 .488 3rd in Central Missed Playoffs
Cleveland 1975–76 82 49 33 .598 1st in Central 13 6 7 .462 Lost in Conf. Finals
Cleveland 1976–77 82 43 39 .524 4th in Central 3 1 2 .333 Lost in First Round
Cleveland 1977–78 82 43 39 .524 3rd in Central 2 0 2 .000 Lost in First Round
Cleveland 1978–79 82 30 52 .366 4th in Central Missed Playoffs
Boston 1979–80 82 61 21 .744 1st in Atlantic 9 5 4 .556 Lost in Conf. Finals
Boston 1980–81 82 62 20 .756 1st in Atlantic 17 12 5 .706 Won NBA Championship
Boston 1981–82 82 63 19 .768 1st in Atlantic 12 7 5 .583 Lost in Conf. Finals
Boston 1982–83 82 56 26 .683 2nd in Atlantic 7 2 5 .286 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
Houston 1983–84 82 29 53 .354 6th in Midwest Missed Playoffs
Houston 1984–85 82 48 34 .585 2nd in Midwest 5 2 3 .400 Lost in First Round
Houston 1985–86 82 51 31 .622 1st in Midwest 20 13 7 .650 Lost in NBA Finals
Houston 1986–87 82 42 40 .512 3rd in Midwest 10 5 5 .500 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
Houston 1987–88 82 46 36 .561 4th in Midwest 4 1 3 .250 Lost in First Round
New Jersey 1989–90 82 17 65 .207 6th in Atlantic Missed Playoffs
New Jersey 1990–91 82 26 56 .317 5th in Atlantic Missed Playoffs
New Jersey 1991–92 82 40 42 .488 3rd in Atlantic 4 1 3 .250 Lost in First Round
L.A. Clippers 1994–95 82 17 65 .207 7th in Pacific Missed Playoffs
L.A. Clippers 1995–96 82 29 53 .354 7th in Pacific Missed Playoffs
L.A. Clippers 1996–97 82 36 46 .439 5th in Pacific 3 0 3 .000 Lost in First Round
L.A. Clippers 1997–98 82 17 65 .207 7th in Pacific Missed Playoffs
Career 2,050 944 1,106 .460 109 55 54 .505


  1. ^ Bill Fitch wins Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award
  2. ^ Charley Rosen. "True tales from the camp fires". Archived from the original on 20 December 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-22. 

External links

  • Bill Fitch
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