Grizzlies name Fratello head coach
Memphis, TN (Sports Network) – Mike Fratello returned to the NBA coaching
ranks Thursday when the Memphis Grizzlies selected the former Atlanta Hawks
and Cleveland Cavaliers coach as their new head coach.
Fratello, who has compiled a 572-462 career record in 13 seasons as an NBA
head coach, takes over following last week’s sudden retirement of Hubie
Brown, who cited he no longer had the desire or energy to keep coaching.
“I am thankful for this opportunity to join the Grizzlies organization,”
Fratello said. “Following in the footsteps of the NBA’s Coach of the Year,
Hubie Brown, is an honor, and I will be forever indebted to him for the
opportunities he provided and groundwork he laid for my future with this
One of the NBA’s top 20 coaches in terms of career victories, Fratello
returns to the sidelines for the first time since 1999. He has served as
an television analyst since his departure, first with NBC and most recently
with TNT, where he shared the booth with Brown before the latter took
over the Grizzlies in 2002 after a 16-year coaching hiatus.
“We are very excited to have the opportunity to have one of the NBA’s most
outstanding coaches join our team, our city and our franchise,” said Grizzlies
president of basketball operations Jerry West. “Mike is a winner, and is not
only committed to the future of this organization, but as a disciple of Hubie
Brown, he will continue the spirit, energy and respect that this team has
earned under Hubie’s leadership.”
Much of Fratello’s success came with the Hawks — his first team that he
coached. He coached Atlanta for just three games in 1981 and then was
named full-time coach in 1983. From there, Fratello compiled a 324-250 record
in eight seasons with Atlanta and guided the them to the playoffs on five
Fratello then turned to the booth before returned to the pine in 1993 to
coach the Cleveland Cavaliers. In six seasons with the Cavs, Fratello
posted a 248-212 mark and guided the team to the postseason four times.
Brown and Fratello have a longtime connection which goes far beyond the
broadcast booth. Fratello was Brown’s assistant for four years at Atlanta
(1978-81) and got his first taste as a head coach when Brown took the top job
for the New York Knicks. Fratello then joined Brown in New York for the
1982-83 campaign before moving back to Atlanta.
“Hubie’s been like a big brother to me for about 100 years,” Fratello joked.
After guiding the Grizzlies to a 28-46 record during his first year with the
club, the 71-year-old Brown turned Memphis into one of the league’s budding
franchises. The Grizzlies finished with a franchise-best 50-32 mark last
season and had their first playoff appearance, which earned Brown NBA Coach of
the Year honors.
Fratello also announced Thursday the additions of former Golden State head
coach Jeff Musselman and one-time Memphis assistant Mitchell Anderson to his
The 40-year-old Musselman was the Warriors’ head man for the past two seasons
and compiled an overall mark of 75-89. In his first year at the helm,
Musselman guided Golden State to a 17-win improvement over the previous
Lionel Hollins was named interim head coach after Brown’s resignation and
guided the team for four games — all losses. Memphis will take a 5-11 record
into Friday’s home game against Philadelphia.