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MFFL
02-22-2006, 12:29 AM
Sonics' Hill remains baffled by Popovich's treatment
By Percy Allen

SAN ANTONIO — Of all the places to settle down, Bob Hill chose Cordillera Ranch, an upscale, gated community about 20 miles northwest of San Antonio where luxury million dollar homes are buttressed by the breathtaking Texas Hill Country landscape.

It's an idyllic setting, which boasts a world-class golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus, and a place where Hill and his wife, Pam, raised three boys — Cameron, Chris and Casey — who played basketball and learned their dad's craft at Trinity University.

Hill refers to his home here as "a little slice of heaven," which is a little strange because it's also a place where he's constantly reminded of his biggest failure in basketball and how great his coaching career might have been if not for Gregg Popovich.

"It was what it was," Hill said Monday as his Sonics prepared for tonight's game at San Antonio, which is not only a rematch of last year's Western Conference semifinalists but his first visit as a head coach since being fired by then-president Popovich 10 years ago.

"It's over. I don't think I'm going to feel anything. There's no players on the team that I coached. David [Robinson] will be in the stands, but that's it."

Hill has harbored a deep resentment toward Popovich, whom he believes unfairly terminated his employment and maligned his reputation in the NBA.

Hill has no proof to support his claims, just unsubstantiated claims from anonymous friends throughout the league and a gut feeling that he has been wronged.

"I just know him too well," Hill said. "I know what he's like behind closed doors. I've been in lots and lots of meetings with him. The only way he can justify what he did was to create all this deception that I was some kind of ... monster. That I was hard to work with or whatever ... and they were all lies."

It still baffles Hill that he was fired after guiding San Antonio to a league-best 62-20 record during the 1994-95 season and 59 wins the next season. He doesn't mention that he inherited a team that won 55 games or that the Spurs failed to advance past the Western Conference finals under his guidance.

It still burns at Hill that he was fired after starting the 1996-97 season with a 3-15 record even though several players were out because of injuries, including Robinson, who played six games that season after aggravating a back injury.

"He basically set me up and kept lying to me, and the first chance he got, he got rid of me," Hill said. "The first chance. We won [121] games in two years. What people remember, which is really sad, is that only David was out.

"There were five guys out. David was out. Sean [Elliott] was out. Chuck Person was out. Will Perdue missed eight games [early]."

With Popovich at the helm, the Spurs finished 20-62 and landed the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, which they used to select Tim Duncan, who became a two-time MVP. Since he joined the Spurs, they have the best winning percentage of any team in the four major sports at .708 (478-197) and three NBA titles.

If the story ended here, maybe Hill wouldn't still hold a grudge. Despite his glowing résumé, he was passed over for several jobs.

Admittedly, Hill was selective. He refused to start at the bottom again and declined offers to work as an assistant. He finished second in the interviewing process in Cleveland and Seattle and unwisely took the job at Fordham University, where he was dismissed after four seasons.

Friends told Hill that owners might have blackballed him because he accepted $10,000 to coach in a charity game organized by the NBA union before the lockout-shortened 1999 season.

"I don't know, that's possible," he said. "That may have been it. Or maybe it was something else."

MavKikiNYC
02-22-2006, 12:41 AM
If he's still swatting at 10-year old ghosts, he's gonna have a helluva time getting anywhere with that Sonics roster.

dirno2000
02-22-2006, 12:44 AM
Bob Hill is one of those guys that looks like he should be a good coach but he's really not.

MavsFanFinley
02-22-2006, 12:47 AM
You guys are crazy. Any team would want Bob Hill over Pop coaching there team.

Thespiralgoeson
02-22-2006, 01:11 AM
You guys are crazy. Any team would want Bob Hill over Pop coaching there team.

Any team except the Spurs apparently.

MavsFanFinley
02-22-2006, 01:14 AM
I thought people would catch my sarcasm.

Thespiralgoeson
02-22-2006, 01:20 AM
I did. I was playing a long. I guess I need to remember to inlcude the ";)"

dude1394
02-22-2006, 07:10 PM
I found this line today by Popovich. True greatness, that guy is.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/writers/kelly_dwyer/02/21/worst.awards/3.html
"I'm smart enough not to ever get into that situation. My moon is aligned very closely with [Tim Duncan's]. I'm waiting for his retirement announcement, because mine will be 30 seconds after it. I have no need to prove this, that or the other by going to this, that or the other city, [so critics can say] 'Oh, he did it again, so he's for real.' 'For real' can kiss my ass."
-- Gregg Popovich. I'm glad somebody finally called "for real" out. For real, yo.