Local Legend Cotton Fitzsimmons to be Named to BB Hall of Fame
He was a superstar at Bowling Green High School, a standout at Hannibal La Grange College, and went on to become a two-time NBA Coach of the Year. Now, Cotton Fitzsimmons will be remembered as a member of the prestigious Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Sadly, this is a posthumous award. Fitzsimmons died in 2004, but he certainly made his mark in the basketball world. He is most widely remembered as the coach of the Phoenix Suns, where he actually had three tenures in the job as head coach. Around here, he is known as the local boy who made the big time.
Lowell Gibbs Fitzsimmons was nicknamed “Cotton” for his white hair by his fourth-grade classmates in Bowling Green. His father died young, so after high school, he supported his family by working the next two years at the nearby brick factory in Farber. Afterward, he was able to enroll at Hannibal La Grange. He averaged 25.5 points per game playing for the HLG Trojans.
His coaching career started at Moberly Junior College. He moved on to the head coaching job at Kansas State, and then started his NBA career with the Phoenix Suns, and that's where he eventually ended it in spectacular style. His career path wound through the NBA teams Atlanta, Golden State, Buffalo, Kansas City Kings, and San Antonio. He finished out his coaching years with the Phoenix Suns from 1986-1997. His 832 career wins currently ranks him 16th most successful coach in the NBA.
Fitzsimmons is one of 16 inductees to the Basketball Hall of Fame. The ceremony is coming up September 11.