Tag Archives: San Antonio Spurs

Nominations open for Spirit of Cotton Award

Do you know a high school basketball coach who consistently demonstrates the best qualities of coach, educator, mentor and community leader?

For the seventh year, Phoenix Suns Charities will recognize an extraordinary coach with The Spirit of Cotton Award honoring the memory of former Suns head coach Cotton Fitzsimmons.

All high school head basketball coaches in Arizona are eligible to be nominated. Nominations can be made by a community member, fellow coach/teacher, school administrator or student-athlete.

The Spirit of Cotton Award winner will receive a commemorative plaque and ring and a Phoenix Suns Charities grant of $10,000 for use in the school’s athletic programs.

Nominations are being accepted through March 9. The winner will be announced and honored at the Suns regular season finale against the San Antonio Spurs on April 25.

Previous Spirit of Cotton Award recipients include Byron Maynes of Salome High School in Salome (2011) David Lopez of St. Mary’s High School in Phoenix (2010), Howard Mueller of Phoenix Greenway High School (2009), Karen Self of Seton Catholic High School in Chandler (2008) and Gary Ernst of Mesa Mountain View High School (2007).

Cotton Fitzsimmons. Photo courtesy of the NBA.

Fitzsimmons, who died in July 2004, had been an integral part of the franchise since 1970, with his first of three stints as the team’s head coach. He returned to the Suns in 1987 as director of player personnel. In 1988-89, Fitzsimmons added coaching to his duties with the Suns and engineered what, at the time, was the third-biggest one-season turnaround in NBA history, converting the Suns from a 28-win non-playoff team to a 55-win team that advanced to the 1989 Western Conference Finals.

Over a 20-year NBA coaching career, Fitzsimmons won 832 games with four different franchises. He was twice honored as NBA Coach of the Year (1979 with Kansas City, 1989 with the Suns).

For more information on The Spirit of Cotton Award, or to download a nomination form, please visit SunsCharities.org.

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Grant Hill announced as spokesman for the arts

Grant Hill has an eye on the future. “In my world, competition is fierce on and off the court,” the Phoenix Suns forward says in a new public service announcement. “It’s more important than ever to prepare the next generation to face challenges head on.”

Hill believes exposure to the arts is significant to that preparation. That’s why he signed on to be campaign spokesperson for The Choice is Art, a four-year statewide campaign by the Arizona Commission on the Arts to promote access to arts education.

In his first PSA for the program, Hill describes the positive effects that the arts bring: “The arts teach skills like discipline, dedication and teamwork. And for kids struggling with academic, social or family challenges, the arts can change lives.”

Hill is no stranger to the arts; he and his wife, Grammy-nominated singer Tamia Hill have been longtime patrons. In fact, their 46-pierce collection of African-American art went on tour as the Something All Our Own: The Grant Hill Collection of African American Art exhibition from 2003-2006. The collection featured several major works from acclaimed artists Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Hughie Lee Smith and John Biggers.

“From a young age, my father instilled in me a respect for well-crafted and historically significant artifacts and works of art,” Hill writes in a letter of support for the campaign. “He took me to museums and taught me to appreciate the energetic vision of artists, especially African-American artists. This family tradition of collecting is another reason I continue to acquire impactful works of art. Now, as a father myself, I recognize the value of passing this appreciation on to my two children. They have a natural affinity for creative works, and it is inspiring to see them make their own artistic discoveries.”

A veteran of the NBA, Hill graduated from Duke University in 1994 and became one of the best all-around players in the league at that time, sharing Rookie of the Year Award honors with Jason Kidd. After being plagued with injuries throughout the prime of his career, Hill came to Phoenix in 2007 and joined Steve Nash as a team captain. He won his first career playoff series victory in 2010, when the Suns swept the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Semifinals, and averaged 13.2 points per game in the 2010-11 season. — Robert T. Balint


Listen to RAK’s 2008 interview with Grant Hill.

RAK Archives
Read about Hill’s experiences juggling minutes on the court and quality time with his two little girls, Myla and Lael.

Hill also promotes healthy, active lifestyles for kids. In January, we wrote about his involvement with the Kids Sports Stars healthy lifestyle challenge.


Grant Hill’s thoughts on fatherhood, from a Father’s Day interview in 2008.