Bob Hill Rumors
Gregg Popovich was the coach nobody wanted. It’s hard to fathom now, after five NBA championships as coach of the San Antonio Spurs and with him now alone in fifth place on the league’s all-time victory list. But it’s true — Popovich’s decision to fire Bob Hill and make himself coach and general manager in December 1996 was horribly received at first, leaving even some of his own players baffled. The San Antonio Express-News took a poll after that season and found that 92 percent of Spurs fans wanted Popovich fired. As Popovich would suggest now (on politics, one of his favorite topics), sometimes voters get it wrong.
Longtime NBA coach Bob Hill welcomed Yao Ming’s unanimous appointment this week as the Chinese Basketball Association’s new president. In fact, Hill, who has worked as a technical consultant for the Taiwan men’s national team in recent years, hailed the move. “Yao is an iconic figure here in China and rightfully so,” Hill told The Japan Times. “I believe he will be able to open doors for the CBA that have never even been approached throughout the history of the league.”
Yao plans to “sell his stake in the Shanghai Sharks before next season and pursue a reform agenda for the professional league, state media reported,” according to Reuters. What are Hill’s expectations for Yao in his new executive role? “He has the capabilities to upgrade the league like never before,” Hill said of Yao. “I’m confident there will be many, many people rooting for him as he is a quality person as well.”
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.”