Memphis Grizzlies name Lionel Hollins head coach

Memphis Grizzlies General Manager and Basketball Operations Chris Wallace today named Lionel Hollins the new head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies.

For Hollins, it will mark his third head coaching stint with the Grizzlies, where he was a staple in the team’s coaching ranks from 1995-07. The 20-year NBA coaching veteran has worked with current Grizzlies Rudy Gay, Hakim Warrick and Kyle Lowry as an assistant under former Grizzlies Head Coaches’ Mike Fratello and Tony Barone. Hollins, who still maintains a residence in Bluff City with his family, recently spent the first half of the 2008-09 season as an assistant coach under Scott Skiles with the Milwaukee Bucks.

“We are pleased today to introduce Lionel Hollins as the next head coach of the Grizzlies. Lionel brings an impressive resume of NBA experience both as a coach and player,” Wallace said. “He has worked under some of the most successful head coaches in the history of the NBA, and he’s a former NBA champion as a player.

“He also brings extensive experience with our organization and a commitment to the city of Memphis. Lionel kept his permanent residence in Memphis while he was working with the Milwaukee Bucks. I was also very impressed with the commitment he displayed working with the young people at the Grizzlies Academy during his year off in the NBA (2007-08).”

An original member of the franchise’s inaugural 1995-96 season in Vancouver as the lead assistant, Hollins served as the club’s head coach on an interim basis on two separate occasions.   Hollins guided Vancouver to an 18-42 finish in 1999-00 (.300) after the team started the season 4-18 and again took the reins for four games in 2004-05 following the resignation of Hubie Brown.  Hollins, 55, owns an all-time record of 18-46 (.281) as the Grizzlies’ interim head coach.

Prior to joining the Grizzlies, the Arizona State graduate spent seven years with the Phoenix Suns (1988-95) as an assistant coach under Cotton Fitzsimmons and later Paul Westphal.  During that time, Phoenix compiled an overall record of 394-180 (.686) and never won fewer than 53 games in a single season.  The Suns won franchise-record 62 games in the 1992-93 season and represented the Western Conference in the 1993 NBA Finals against the Chicago Bulls.

The Arkansas City, Kansas native has served under three NBA Coaches of the Year, including Brown (1977, 2005), Fitzsimmons (1978, 1989) and Fratello (1986) and was on the coaching staff when Brown and Fitzsimmons were honored with the award a second time. In addition, as a 10-year NBA veteran (1975-85), Hollins was led by several notable head coaches, including Lenny Wilkens, Jack Ramsay, Billy Cunningham, Bill Fitch, Chuck Daly and Paul Silas.

Selected sixth overall in the first round of the 1975 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers, Hollins earned a spot on the 1976 All-Rookie First Team and won an NBA Championship as a starter for the Trail Blazers in 1977, where he was a teammate of current Grizzlies Assistant Coach Johnny Davis.  A year later, he was an NBA All-Star while also being named to the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team.  Hollins averaged 11.6 points, 4.5 assists and 1.56 steals over 673 career games with Portland, Philadelphia 76ers, San Diego Clippers, Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets.

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