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Former Rockets coach Bill Fitch passes away at 89

The Hall of Famer coached the Rockets from 1983-88.

Portland Trailblazers vs. Houston Rockets Photo by Brian Drake/NBAE via Getty Images

Former Houston Rockets coach Bill Fitch passed away Wednesday at his home in Conroe, Texas. He was 89.

The team tweeted out a statement:

While Fitch’s greatest coaching achievement of his career came against the Rockets by winning the 1981 NBA Championship with the Boston Celtics, Fitch enjoyed five successful seasons in Houston.

He led the Rockets to four playoff appearances, including the 1986 NBA Finals, where the Rockets lost to Fitch’s former team, the Celtics.

“He saved my life,” Rockets coach John Lucas told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, a day after Fitch died at 89. “In ’86, the year we went to the Finals, I was struggling with my drug use, he told me, “No more. No more covering up for you.’ He saved my life.”

Following his tenure with the Rockets, Fitch spent three seasons coaching the New Jersey Nets and four seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers before retiring in 1998.

Fitch finished his coaching career with 944 wins, placing him 11th on the all-time list.