Legendary coach Bill Fitch, former Rockets coach, has died at age 89

Head coach Bill Fitch of the Houston Rockets talks with his team during a time out of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Bullets circa 1988 at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland. Fitch coached the Rockets from 1983-88. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) (Focus On Sport, 1988 Focus on Sport)

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.

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About the Authors:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.