Larry Bird once called coach Bill Fitch “by far the best I’ve seen.”
Many of Bird’s Boston Celtics teammates disagreed. The multiple teams that fired Fitch disagreed. The Basketball Hall of Fame disagreed.
But as time passed, the sting faded from Fitch’s Marine-drill-sergeant style (perhaps picked up from his father, a Marine drill sergeant). Appreciation grew for Fitch’s devotion to the job and success in it.
Fitch – who died at 89 – will be remembered as one of the NBA’s all-time great coaches.
Fitch coached the Houston Rockets from 1983-1988. Fitch coached the Rockets to the 1986 NBA Finals, where they lost to his former team, the Celtics. Houston fired Fitch in 1988.