32 Facts About Cotton Fitzsimmons


Lowell Gibbs "Cotton" Fitzsimmons was an American college and NBA basketball coach.

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Cotton Fitzsimmons coached the Phoenix Suns three times, was named the NBA Coach of the Year twice, and is often credited as the architect of the Suns' success of the late 1980s and early to middle 1990s.

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On May 16,2021, it was announced that Cotton Fitzsimmons was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

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Cotton Fitzsimmons said: “Coach Wilson had the biggest influence on me of any male adult.

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Cotton Fitzsimmons taught me the difference between rules and principles.

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Cotton Fitzsimmons worked for two years to help support the family until his sisters graduated from high school, just as his older brother Orland had done.

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In 1952, Cotton Fitzsimmons enrolled at Hannibal-LaGrange College, then a junior college in Hannibal, Missouri.

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Cotton Fitzsimmons left Missouri to attend Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.

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Cotton Fitzsimmons turned down an offer to play AAU basketball for the Akron Goodyear Wingfoots and remained at Midwestern State after graduation to earn a master's degree in administrative education.

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Cotton Fitzsimmons decided his ambition was to become a professional basketball coach.

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Cotton Fitzsimmons accepted the position as head coach at Moberly Junior College in Moberly, Missouri in 1958, replacing Maury John.

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Cotton Fitzsimmons was named 1970 Big 8 Coach of the Year and led the Wildcats to the Sweet Sixteen of the 1970 NCAA tournament.

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In 1970, Cotton Fitzsimmons replaced Jerry Colangelo as head coach of the Phoenix Suns.

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The relationship between Colangelo and Cotton Fitzsimmons would be lengthy, as Cotton Fitzsimmons would serve the Suns in multiple capacities, including three tenures as head coach.

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Cotton Fitzsimmons worked with Colangelo without any discussion of compensation throughout their long tenure together.

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Cotton Fitzsimmons was released from the remaining two years of his Suns contract by Colangelo to allow him to accept a similar capacity with the Atlanta Hawks on May 31,1972.

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Cotton Fitzsimmons returned to Phoenix to reside in 1975, although he still coached the Hawks.

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The Hawks traded Maravich to the New Orleans Jazz in May, 1974 and Cotton Fitzsimmons was left with a young team and a rotating front office.

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Cotton Fitzsimmons quickly returned to coaching, becoming head coach by the Buffalo Braves, hired by General Manager Norm Sonju on August 5,1977.

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The Braves changed owners and the team was moved and rebranded and Cotton Fitzsimmons reflected of his tenure jokingly, “I think Buffalo got a raw deal as far as the NBA, ” he said years later.

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On May 9,1984, Cotton Fitzsimmons left Kansas City to become head coach of the San Antonio Spurs.

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Colangelo and Cotton Fitzsimmons reunited in 1986, as Cotton Fitzsimmons returned to the Suns organization, joining Colangelo in the Suns' front office.

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Cotton Fitzsimmons was one of the driving forces behind the trade that sent Larry Nance to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Kevin Johnson, Mark West and a future first-round draft pick.

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Cotton Fitzsimmons was criticized both by Suns fans and basketball critics after the trade; Nance was very popular in Phoenix.

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In 1992, Cotton Fitzsimmons became only the sixth coach in NBA history to reach 800 wins.

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Cotton Fitzsimmons did television commentary, joining Al McCoy for Suns broadcasts.

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In 1996, Cotton Fitzsimmons became the Suns head coach for the third time, guiding the Suns to the NBA Playoffs, where they lost to the Spurs, 3 games to 1.

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Cotton Fitzsimmons has since slipped to number ten in the all-time winning list as an NBA coach.

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Cotton Fitzsimmons suffered two more brain strokes before it was finally revealed to the public that he was in serious condition at a local hospital.

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Gary Cotton Fitzsimmons has had a lengthy career as a basketball assistant coach, scout and executive.

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Cotton Fitzsimmons serves as vice president and assistant general manager of the Atlanta Hawks.

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Cotton Fitzsimmons said of their relationship afterwards, “During his days here, Cotton was like a member of my family.

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