|Hill out as Magic coach|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 23 May 2007 18:07|
It was unclear whether Hill was fired or resigned Wednesday, with the team releasing a statement at night stating he would not return as coach. The team said Hill would have the option to return to the organization in another capacity.
``Brian's contributions to the Orlando Magic have been tremendous,'' president Bob Vander Weide said in the statement. ``We appreciate everything Brian did for us as a head coach in taking us to this point, and hope he decides to stay with the organization.''
In two stints with the Magic, Hill became the winningest coach in team history. He took Orlando to its first playoff appearance in four years this season.
``We will miss Brian's disciplined approach, game preparation and attention to detail, and passion he displayed as our head coach,'' general manager Otis Smith said in the statement. ``We look forward to taking the next step toward being a championship-caliber team.''
The Magic finished 40-42 this season before being eliminated in four games by the Detroit Pistons in the playoffs.
The 59-year-old Hill had a year left on his contract, along with a team option for another.
Some fans have been upset Hill didn't give rookie J.J. Redick and 7-footer Darko Milicic more prominent roles. Hill has also been criticized for not helping All-Star Dwight Howard develop a better offensive game since the former No. 1 overall pick was drafted out of high school in 2004.
Hill led the club in the 1990s to its greatest heights - the NBA Finals in 1995 and Eastern Conference championship a year later. The Magic won consecutive Atlantic Division titles those years and in '96 lost to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, the eventual champs.
Orlando was one of the league's best franchises under Hill and All-Stars Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway. But the Magic dumped Hill with 33 games left in the 1996-97 season, a locker room coup led by the now-long-gone Hardaway.
Orlando has still not gotten past the first round of the playoffs since Hill left in 1997.
The Magic settled on Hill's return in May 2005, reintroducing him at a news conference with the ``Welcome Back, Kotter'' theme music. But the arrangement didn't last long.
Orlando made it back to the playoffs this season, but Vander Weide was unimpressed with their showing. Few expected the series to be competitive, and it wasn't. Orlando lost each game by an average of nine points.
Hill coached the Memphis Grizzlies after his first stint with Orlando, but never found the same success there. He inherited a team that won just 14 games and went a combined 31-123 from 1997-2000, getting fired 22 games into the 1999-2000 season.
Hill is 298-315 overall as an NBA head coach and was 267-192 with Orlando. He was an assistant coach with the New Jersey Nets and New Orleans Hornets between head coaching jobs with Orlando and Memphis.