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Brian Hill

Sport: Basketball

Born: September 19, 1947

Town: East Orange

Brian Alfred Hill was born September 19, 1947 in East Orange. His older brother, Fred Hill,was a huge multisport star in the early 1950s—a small-college All-American in football and a minor league baseball player who coached both sports in high school and college. Brian was all about basketball. Though he stood just 5’9”, he was a quick and clever playmaker for Our Lady of the Valley, a Catholic High School in Orange, under Richie Adubato.

Brian decided to follow his older brother into coaching. He enrolled at John F. Kennedy College in Nebraska, a now-defunct school best known for its women’s basketball and softball championship teams. Brian played varsity basketball at JFK while earning a degree in Physical Education. After graduation, Brian moved back home and began coaching hoops at Clifford High School, and then became an assistant at Montclair State and Lehigh. In 1975–76, Brian became Lehigh’s head coach. He had limited success over eight seasons before joining Bruce Parkhill as an assistant in 1983 after Parkhill was named coach of Penn State.

In 1986, Brian’s friend Mike Fratello, was named head coach of the NBA Atlanta Hawks. They had met while attending a Driver’s Ed training class at Montclair State in the 1960s and stayed in touch over the years. Brian joined Fratello’s staff as an assistant and then moved to the Orlando Magic in 1990. In 1993, Brian was named coached of the Magic. Orlando, who already had Shaquille O’Neal, won the NBA lottery and picked Chris Webber, who they traded to the Warriors for Anfernee Hardaway and three high draft picks. The following season, Brian led the team past Michael Jordan and the Bulls and into the NBA Finals. Their amazing run ended against Hakeem Olajuwon and the Rockets in four straight.

Brian coached the Magic to the conference finals the following year, where they lost to the Bulls. He was fired midway through the 1996–97 season when the team failed to inch above the .500 mark. He was hired the following fall by the Vancouver Grizzlies, coaching the club for two-plus seasons. Brian served as an assistant for the Nets for several years before returning to Orlando for a second stint as head coach. He was moved into the front office following two so-so seasons on the bench.

 

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