The basketball world is mourning the death of Bill Fitch, the legendary Hall of Fame NBA head coach who won the NBA Finals in 1981 with the Boston Celtics. He was 89.
“Bill served 25 seasons as an NBA head coach and mentored countless players and coaches,” the NBA said in a tweet. “Our deepest condolences go out to his family and friends.”
Fitch won 944 regular-season games in his career, 11th all-time among coaches.
The National Basketball Coaches Association said, “The NBCA joins the NBA family in mourning the passing of longtime Coach, Bill Fitch. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Fitch family during this very difficult time.”
NBCA president and Indiana Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said in a statement, “A great coach, a great man, and a great builder of franchises. He will be missed.”
The Washington Post reported that, according to Carlisle, Fitch’s daughter Marcy Ann Coville said he had died in Conroe, Texas.
Fitch coached the Cleveland Cavaliers, Celtics, Houston Rockets, New Jersey Nets and Los Angeles Clippers and led his NBA teams to the playoffs 13 times in his 25 seasons.
A two-time NBA Coach of the Year winner, Fitch was the first coach of the expansion Cavaliers in 1970 and went on to win the NBA Finals in 1981 in his second season leading Boston. Fitch guided Houston to the NBA Finals in 1986 when the Rockets lost to the Celtics.
Fitch also coached at the collegiate level at Minnesota, Bowling Green, North Dakota and his alma mater, Coe College.
Fitch, who was born in Davenport, Iowa, was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019.
CNN’s Jill Martin contributed to this report.