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NBA PLAYOFFS | NOTES

Clippers Sign Fitch Through 2000

May 23, 1997|CHRIS BAKER

Coach Bill Fitch, who guided the Clippers to their first playoff berth and their best record in four seasons, was rewarded with a two-year contract extension Thursday.

Hired in 1994, Fitch had one year remaining on his original contract. The extension takes him through the 1999-2000 season.

"I've never coached on a one-year contract wherever I've been, and I doubt very much whether I would have now," Fitch said.

Fitch, who clashed with several players because of his rotation system last season, acknowledges that he's not loved by all his players.

"If they all agree to hate me, I'm all for that because very seldom do all 12 of them agree on anything," Fitch joked. "They all know what's expected. If I'm a player, I'd be saying, 'If I could stand the last three years with the son of a gun, I can stand three more.' "

Guard Pooh Richardson, who became disgruntled after losing his starting job to Darrick Martin and having his playing time reduced in the Clippers' six-man rotation, complained about his plight on a radio program Thursday morning.

"Pooh has told the world that he's very unhappy," Fitch said. "We've got six guards, and I think something will be done in the off-season."

Fitch, 65, who underwent an emergency triple bypass last August after suffering a heart attack, will have the longest coaching tenure in franchise history if he fulfills the contract.

"I've been blessed to be able to survive a life threatening crisis," Fitch said. "I'll do this as long as I feel as good physically as I do now and if I've got a team that will go out and battle."

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