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Motta's Plans for Retirement Are Expedited

December 25, 1991|From Associated Press

SACRAMENTO — Dick Motta never got to quit. A day after he said he would retire as Sacramento's coach at the end of the season, the Kings fired him and made assistant Rex Hughes the interim replacement.

"In light of Dick's plans to step down at the end of the year, we feel it is important to address our future now," team President Rick Benner said Tuesday.

The 60-year-old Motta, whose 856 coaching victories in 22 seasons make him the third-winningest coach in NBA history, broke Gene Shue's league record for losses in Saturday night's 109-85 defeat to the Mavericks in Dallas. A 101-90 loss to the Spurs in San Antonio on Monday night was Motta's 863rd loss.

Benner and player personnel director Jerry Reynolds both said they knew nothing of Motta's retirement plans until he announced it on a radio interview before Monday's game.

Motta told reporters later that he wrote his retirement announcement on Nov. 1, the opening day of the season, and put it away in an envelope. He said he pulled out the note last weekend and discussed it with his family. He said his decision was based on personal plans, not the Kings' record or his own record.

"I feel it's time to get on with other parts of my life. I want to do some traveling. This is the perfect time," he said. "This is a young team and it needs to get on. I'm an old guy, and I need to get on. This gives the team a chance to accept applications and not have to make a hurried decision."

Motta, a former NBA coach of the year, had a record of 808 victories and 750 losses when he came out of retirement to become King coach midway through the 1989-90 season.

"I've never failed in my life and I'm not about to here," Motta said at the Jan. 4, 1990, announcement of his appointment.

But the Kings, then a 7-20 team, won only 16 more games and lost 39 more under Motta for a 23-59 record for the 1989-90 season. They improved by only two games, to 25-57, last season, and now are 7-18.

Motta's retirement announcement came one day after reports that the King players were so unhappy under his direction that captain Wayman Tisdale had asked management on behalf of several players not to rehire Motta at the end of the season.

"Obviously this is a period of transition for the franchise and we must take steps to provide for a cohesive organization from the players to the coaching staff to the management and ownership," Benner said.

The Kings' principal investors, developers Gregg Lukenbill and Joseph Benvenuti, are attempting to sell the team. It was also revealed Tuesday that Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York had begun foreclosure action against Sacramento's Hyatt Regency hotel, also owned by Lukenbill and Benvenuti.

Hughes, who joined the Kings as Motta's assistant last year after serving as Atlanta's head scout, will coach the Kings on Thursday, when they are host to the Seattle Supersonics. Hughes has 27 years of college and NBA coaching and scouting experience. He was head coach at Kent State from 1974 to 1978.

It is Hughes' first NBA head coaching position. He was general manager and head coach of the Montana Sky of the now-defunct Western Basketball Assn. after leaving Kent State.

Mike Bratz, a nine-year NBA guard who was an advance scout for the Kings since the start of the season, replaced Hughes as assistant coach.

Bratz, originally drafted by Phoenix in 1977 after playing at Stanford, played for six NBA teams before concluding his playing career with the Kings in 1986.

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