Magic Players Were United Against Hill

Associated Press

A unanimous vote by Orlando Magic players in February led to the firing of Coach Brian Hill, the Orlando Sentinel reported Monday.

The 13 Magic players convened in Penny Hardaway’s hotel suite in Minneapolis and one by one gave their thoughts on Hill. Using parliamentary procedure, they took a formal vote and unanimously decided the coach must go.

Hardaway then called General Manager John Gabriel on a cellular phone. Less than a week later Hill was fired.


“The purpose of the meeting wasn’t to discuss how we should fire Coach Hill,” Hardaway said of the Feb. 13 vote. “But everyone had comments to make and they were all basically negative. We didn’t like the offense we were running and we weren’t comfortable with the defensive schemes.”

Hill became the Magic’s second coach before the 1993-94 season, replacing Matt Guokas. When his 3 1/2-year reign ended in February, he had a 191-104 overall record and had coached the Magic to three Eastern Conference finals and one NBA final.

He spent the first part of the season dealing with injuries to as many as four starters but still had the Magic on track for a playoff spot. But after the All-Star break, the Magic went on a five-game losing streak.

Hardaway’s desire for a coaching change may have grown at the All-Star game in Cleveland, the Sentinel said. Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan needled Hardaway with facetious tales of how their coaches gave them proper superstar status by excusing them from day-of-game shootarounds and other team requirements.

“It was very common for an opposing player to tell us, thanks to Brian Hill you guys are never going to win a championship,” Hardaway said.


The Chicago Bulls lost Bill Wennington for the rest of the regular season because he has a ruptured tendon in his left foot.


Last week, Dennis Rodman was declared out for the rest of the regular season after spraining the medial collateral ligament in his left knee. Bull Coach Phil Jackson said Monday there was an outside chance Rodman could play in a couple of the final regular-season games.

Wennington, who averaged 4.7 points and two rebounds in 60 games mostly as a backup center--he had 19 starts--suffered his latest injury in the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s victory over New Jersey. His status for the postseason is undetermined.

“We’ll know more as it progresses. Obviously, it’s a major loss for us,” Bull General Manager Jerry Krause said. “It’s a push in three weeks. So we’ll have to wait and see where he is in three to four weeks.”

The Bulls are considering signing free agent center Brian Williams, who averaged 15.8 points and 7.6 rebounds in 65 games for the Clippers last season. Williams opted out of a $2.5-million contract for this season and became a free agent.

“Brian Williams is in town,” Krause said. “He watched practice today and he’s going to be spending a few days with [strength and conditioning consultant] Al Vermeil. At the end of a few days, we will determine and Brian will determine what his future will be.”