Bob Hill Rumors
Wilkins asked Popovich whether he was joking, especially in light of the dinner he had just shared with Hill. In reality, while Hill and Wilkins dined, Popovich, Spurs chairman Peter Holt and team president Jack Diller were engaged in a two-hour phone call on whether to fire Hill. They decided to let him go, but the group would sleep on it. “We were all surprised,” Wilkins recalled. “All of us thought he was joking. He sat down on the bus. Bob Hill never came out, and he told the bus to pull out. ‘Oh, I guess he’s serious.’ That’s when it all started.”
Former NBA and Tokyo Apache head coach Bob Hill recognizes the value of former NBA players and coaches working in the B. League. “If you take a look at many of the better leagues around the world, NBA players and coaches were always a part of their inaugural years,” Hill told Hoop Scoop on Friday. “As the country’s players and coaches grow, then you see the country’s coaches take over the head coaching jobs and in some cases the number of imports are cut back. That’s how Europe has gotten so much better from top to bottom.”
The Suns kept the same coach at the top but the staff will have a different look with the team opting not to renew four members’ contracts for next season. Suns assistant coaches Corey Gaines and Bob Hill were informed Wednesday that their expiring contracts will not be renewed. Player development assistant Irving Roland and assistant video coordinator Ross Geiger also will not return to the Suns staff for Earl Watson’s first full season as head coach. All of the staff’s contracts will expire June 30 but the others will be renewed.
With Robinson out to start the 1997-98 season, the Spurs struggled to a 3-14 start. On the day that Robinson returned, then-general manager Gregg Popovich fired Hill and took over as head coach. San Antonio won three of the next five games before Robinson suffered a season-ending foot fracture, leading the Spurs to a 20-62 season that put them in draft position to add Tim Duncan. Five NBA championships later, Popovich remains coach. “We did really well but that’s part of life,” said Hill, who has kept home base in Boerne, Texas, which is an hour northwest of San Antonio. “I guess I didn’t do good enough. I don’t know. He wanted to be the coach. And as soon as he had an opportunity to get rid of me, he did it. It’s too bad. The league’s like that sometimes. You’re going to run into people like that sometimes and that’s part of life. It was a great experience. I’m happy I had that. It hasn’t affected my coaching. I continued to coach and always will.”
Hill, meanwhile, embraces the challenge of working alongside Watson. “Earl played for me in Seattle and we had a terrific relationship that was framed with a desire to win,” Hill told The Japan Times. “He was an excellent practice player and obviously played hard at all times in the games. “He will be an outstanding coach in this league and I am thrilled that he reached out to me to join him. “The Phoenix Suns have always been a cornerstone of the NBA and it will be challenging and fun to help them get back to that level of competition.”
The Vertical: The Phoenix Suns hired four-time NBA head coach Bob Hill as an assistant coach, league sources tell The Vertical.
Seventeen years later, Popovich is a likely Hall of Fame coach with four NBA titles and one win from his fifth. Hill has lived in San Antonio for the past 11 years and has spent several years coaching in China, Taiwan, and Japan. “It’s part of life — [Popovich] always wanted to be the head coach, I just didn’t recognize it quick enough,” Hill said. “Listen, the last two games they have played against Miami have been just phenomenal. They have kicked Miami’s butt from one baseline to the other baseline, every facet of basketball, they’ve dominated. They’ve done it as a team and that’s a credit to the players. “When you play that well, you have to give them credit. They deserve it. What you’re witnessing with this team is real.”