May 19, 1934 |
|High school||Cedar Rapids (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)|
|1989–1992||New Jersey Nets|
|1994–1998||Los Angeles Clippers|
|Career highlights and awards|
William Charles Fitch (born May 19, 1934) is an American former National Basketball Association (NBA) coach who had been successful in developing a number of teams into playoff contenders. Before entering the professional ranks, he coached college basketball 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.
During his 25-year pro coaching career, Fitch was often hired in an attempt to improve failing teams. Although Fitch currently ranks tenth among NBA coaches in all-time number of victories (with 944), he is also ranked second in all-time losses (with 1,106) behind Lenny Wilkens.
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 the New Jersey Nets and Los Angeles Clippers. In 1996 Fitch was named one of the NBA's Ten Greatest Coaches of All-Time.
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.
|Regular season||G||Games coached||W||Games won||L||Games lost||W–L %||Win–loss %|
|Post season||PG||Playoff games||PW||Playoff wins||PL||Playoff losses||PW–L %||Playoff win–loss %|
|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|
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