|Traffic | Weather | Your account||Movies | Restaurants | Today's events|
Sonics' Hill could fill a book with his basketball bounces
Seattle Times staff reporter
Bob Hill plans to write a book, and one chapter, he promises, will set the record straight about his failures at Fordham University.
Presumably, the rest of the autobiographical tale will examine how he might have won three NBA championships in San Antonio, his perceptions on what he describes as a decline of basketball in America and his road to redemption, which includes his present stop in Seattle as a Sonics assistant.
Initially hailed as a savior and nicknamed the CEO of basketball, Hill admittedly made several mistakes at the small Division I-A school in the Bronx, which is a subway ride from Madison Square Garden where he'd been an interim coach of the New York Knicks.
Hill, whose NBA tenure also includes a head-coaching stint with Indiana and the Spurs, was given a 10-year, $2.5 million contract in 1999 and the responsibility to reverse seven seasons of losing. The Rams hadn't had a winning season since 1991-92, when they made their last NCAA tournament appearance.
"That was a really, really bad mistake," Hill said. "That was my fault. I should have never taken the job. I didn't like it. I should have left. I made mistakes.
"I probably recruited the wrong kind of kid to go to that school, and I was in constant fights every day on just the natural resources that you need to have a program. ... Having enough money to recruit. Did I learn? Yeah, I learned a lot. Not so much about basketball, but about the importance of the business of basketball and the things that you need."
Under Hill's direction, Fordham's win totals declined in his four seasons and the Rams finished the 2002-03 season with its worst record in school history at 2-26, including a 1-15 mark in the Atlantic-10 and 16 straight defeats to end the season.
Hill's final season improved to 4-24 only because St. Bonaventure forfeited two wins, and his final numbers at Fordham stand at 38-76.
Suffice to say, the experience has left him somewhat bitter. When asked if he'd ever coach in college again, Hill quickly said: "Never will I go to college. I'll go coach a prison. ... The landscape of basketball in America is at an all-time low, and the players are the ones that are getting screwed."
Before joining the Sonics this summer, Hill, who authored the book "Coaching For Success and Beyond," spent the past two years writing, giving motivational speeches, consulting and instructing at basketball clinics.
"I knew I wanted a veteran coach, somebody who's been around and knows the ropes," Weiss said weeks ago. "With Brendan [Malone] gone, the rest of our staff is pretty young, so Bob gives us some experience."
The Sonics leaned heavily on that experience Tuesday after Weiss was ejected early in the fourth quarter against Golden State. With Hill at the helm, Seattle rallied from an eight-point deficit but lost 110-107 in overtime.
"It's a big step from the assistant seat to the head coach," Hill said. "It's a whole different existence. Hopefully, I've been a head coach long enough that that can work to an advantage for us if situations like last night happen. It was fun, but I felt really bad that I couldn't win the game."
Ever the optimist, Hill believes there's enough time for the Sonics to rebound. During his first season in San Antonio, 1994-95, the Spurs started 7-9 before finishing with an NBA-best 62-20 record.
The next season, the Spurs won 59 games and former general manager Gregg Popovich replaced Hill following a 3-15 start to the 1996-97 season. San Antonio went on to a 20-62 record, landed the No. 1 pick in the draft, selected Tim Duncan and lived happily ever after.
"I'm going to write a book and it's going to have all of that in it," Hill said. "Just might be a best-seller too. You never know."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company