"He was ahead of the game"
Fitch coached the Celtics from 1979 to 1983. He won a title for Boston in 1981 in just his 2nd year with the team. At that time, Bird was only in his second year in the NBA but was already a 2x All-Star. Larry remembers his coach and what made him one of the brilliant minds in the game.
“I came in as a rookie and he sort of showed me the rope," Bird said. "I thought he was ahead of the game. Breaking down tape after games, we never did that back then. VCR and he run it back and forth, back and forth. I was blessed to have him. I had the most respect for coach Fitch and I can't thank him enough for what he did for my career.”
Bird was right in giving tribute to his former coach. Larry would probably be a different player without learning the basic skills early on. Before his stint in Boston, Fitch mentored the Cleveland Cavaliers from 1970 to 1979. He then coached the Houston Rockets, New Jersey Nets, and the L.A. Clippers after the Boston Celtics. Bill retired in 1998 with 2,050 NBA regular-season games under his belt.
A pioneer of video game tapes
Bill required all his players to be in top shape and integrated technology with his ideas. After all, he wasn’t nicknamed Captain Video for nothing. In a way, Fitch’s innovative techniques paved the way for modern analytics. If anyone needed proof of his greatness, they could check the successful names under his coaching tree: Rick Carlisle, Phil Jackson, Lenny Wilkens, Kevin McHale, Sam Mitchell, John Lucas, Lionel Hollins, and Flip Saunders, per CBS Sports.
Fitch cemented his place among the all-time great coaches. He was a 2x Coach of the Year winner and included in the Top 10 coaches in NBA history, selected by media members in 1996. Bill was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019.
Fitch will be remembered for his advanced ideas and teaching how to play the game the right way. His influence will continue to shape the game of basketball for generations to come.