The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced the Class of 2019, and head coaching Bill Fitch is reportedly among the inductees.
Fitch coached 25 seasons in the league over a career that spanned more than 27 years. He currently ranks tenth on the all-time coaching wins list with 944 victories.
Current Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle once worked as assistant for Fitch when he was with the New Jersey Nets, and has long been an advocate for Fitch’s Hall of Fame credentials.
The Mavs coach issued a statement to reporters on Saturday, exuding his own happiness while also saying that Fitch’s induction was “worth the wait:”
.@dallasmavs Coach Rick Carlisle on Bill Fitch elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (@Hoophall): "He's one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game.I'm thrilled for him. It's an honor that he certainly is deserving of. It's taken awhile, but I.." pic.twitter.com/vKnjDNXdsw
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) April 6, 2019
Despite having the lowest winning percentage of any of the coaches in the top ten in wins, Fitch was renowned for his ability to turn rebuilding teams into contenders.
He began his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers, bringing the franchise all the way to the playoffs in just six years after their creation.
Fitch would lead the Cavs to three straight playoff appearances, and eventually would be offered the head coaching job with the Boston Celtics, where he won an NBA championship in the 1980-81 season.
While Fitch was fortunate to take over successful franchises in Boston and Houston, he was dealt another lowly hand when he became the head coach of the New Jersey Nets prior to the 1989-90 season. The Nets won just 17 games that year, but by 1991-92 they had a 40-win season and a playoff appearance.
Fitch accomplished a similar turnaround with the Los Angeles Clippers, leading them to the playoffs just two years after a 17-win season.
Meanwhile, Carlisle has the Mavs at 31-48 overall in what has been a season of transition for the franchise.