The son of a Marine, and a coach’s coach if there ever was one, Bill Fitch always seemed to enjoy his greatest success when the deck was stacked against him. Fitch arrived in the NBA in 1970, the first coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He came armed with the lessons he learned coaching college basketball at smaller institutions like Coe College, Creighton University, Bowling Green, and the University of North Dakota. Fitch loved a challenge, and in the Cavaliers, the young coach turned an expansion franchise into a playoff contender. Fitch was constantly tinkering, constantly analyzing, constantly finding new ways to get more out of his players. His next stop was Boston, where despite years of success, the Celtics had fallen on hard times. In only his second season in Beantown, Fitch revived the tradition-rich franchise leading the Green to the 1981 NBA championship, the crowning achievement in his coaching career. His discipline and tough love meant that each player, from the leading scorer to the last man off the bench, was expected to be in peak physical condition. In Houston, Fitch struck gold again leading the Rockets to the 1986 NBA Finals. In 1996, at the NBA’s league-wide celebration of its 50th anniversary, Fitch was named to the Top Ten Coaches of All Time list.
BornMay 19, 1934 Davenport, IA
Professional CareerBoston Celtics Cleveland Cavaliers Houston Rockets LA Lakers New Jersey Nets
Time, as Named in 1996