Lowell "Cotton" Fitzsimmons, who won 832 games in 21 seasons as an NBA coach, died last night in Phoenix due to complications from lung cancer. He was 72.
Fitzsimmons was executive vice president of the Phoenix Suns, a team he coached on three occasions.
A malignant tumor was found on Fitzsimmons's lung, near his heart, in April and he had been in a Phoenix area care center since suffering a stroke earlier this month.
The colorful coach, born in Hannibal, Mo., had been a television and radio commentator for the Suns in recent years.
"Cotton Fitzsimmons embodied all things that are great about life and the game of basketball," Suns chairman and CEO Jerry Colangelo said. "His energy, passion and upbeat approach to everything impacted those that he touched in a positive and meaningful way."
Fitzsimmons had coaching stints with five teams -- Phoenix, Atlanta, Buffalo, Kansas City and San Antonio. He had an 832-775 (.518) record in the NBA, ranking him 10th in career victories.
Fitzsimmons was head coach at Kansas State for two seasons, earning Big Eight coach of the year honors in 1970, when he directed the Wildcats to the conference title and the NCAA regional semifinals.
Colangelo lured Fitzsimmons to the Suns in 1970, and the coach was 96-67 in two seasons with Phoenix.
Fitzsimmons is survived by his wife of nearly 26 years, JoAnn, son Gary, two grandchildren, one brother and two sisters.
* TENNIS: Andy Roddick fell into a big deficit and faced three match points before coming back to beat Ivan Ljubicic, 1-6, 7-6 (12-10), 7-6 (7-3), in the RCA Championships semifinals in Indianapolis.
Roddick, who improved to 14-1 in tiebreakers since the French Open, will face Nicolas Kiefer in today's final. Kiefer breezed past Gregory Carraz, 6-2, 6-2. . . .
Lindsay Davenport led 7-5, 2-0 in the JPMorgan Chase Open semifinals when Venus Williams retired because of a right wrist injury. Williams said she tweaked it while pushing off her arms to get up after tying her shoe two hours before the match in Carson, Calif.
However, a doctor who examined Williams diagnosed it as a sprain and advised her to rest until Monday, when she will be reevaluated.
"At 3-0, I started to have issues," Williams said. "I just couldn't control my forehand that much and the more she saw that, the more she was hitting there and that didn't help."
Davenport advanced to today's final for the eighth time in nine years, having won three times. She will play top-seeded Serena Williams, who defeated No. 4 Elena Dementieva, 6-3, 7-6 (7-2). . . .
The Generali Open semifinals and final in Kitzbuehel, Austria, will all be played today after rain washed out all action yesterday. Top-seeded Rainer Schuettler will face Nicolas Massu, and French Open champion Gaston Gaudio will meet Fernando Verdasco in the semifinals.
The final will be shortened to best of three sets, instead of best of five.
* SOCCER: Vicente Sanchez scored the game-winner in Uruguay's 2-1 win over Colombia in the Copa America third-place game in Cusco, Peru. . . .
Spain beat Turkey, 1-0, to win the under-19 European soccer championship.
* PRO FOOTBALL: Cornerback Dunta Robinson, the 10th overall pick in the NFL draft, signed a six-year deal worth about $10.7 million with the Houston Texans.
* COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Oregon State defensive back Justin Williams was killed when the pickup truck he was riding in flipped over after it was struck by another vehicle in Portland, Ore.
* HORSE RACING: Jockey Alex Solis, who was leading riders in North America in purse money this year, fractured three ribs and a vertebra in his back in a one-horse spill in Del Mar, Calif., on Friday. The Panamanian-born Solis has won $11.5 million in purse money this year.
-- From News Services