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The Arizona Republic

Fitzsimmons’ health continues to worsen

By NORM FRAUENHEIM

The Arizona Republic

PHOENIX – The health of former Phoenix Suns coach Cotton Fitzsimmons has taken a turn for the worse, according to team officials close to him.

Fitzsimmons, 72, has been a patient at an undisclosed Phoenix-area care center since suffering a stroke within the last couple of weeks.

A malignant tumor was found on Fitzsimmons’ lung, near his heart, on April 7 when he saw a throat specialist because of a persistent cough.

Fitzsimmons, who had been doing color commentary on Suns telecasts, also has suffered from circulatory problems. He has been undergoing radiation and taking blood-thinning medication.

A blood clot below his left knee in February forced him to quit traveling with the Suns, because flying aggravated the problem.

Fitzsimmons coached the Suns three times. He arrived in Phoenix for the first time in 1970 and became the third coach for a franchise that was beginning only its third season. He succeeded longtime and current Suns chairman Jerry Colangelo, who had finished the prior season as the interim coach.

Through two decades as an NBA coach, he was 832-775, among the all-time top 10 in NBA victories. He was voted NBA coach of the year twice, 1979 in Kansas City and 1989 with the Suns.

Elsewhere

LAKERS: Vlade Divac has reached a deal to rejoin Los Angeles, leaving Sacramento after six seasons, an NBA source told The Associated Press.

Earlier yesterday in Belgrade, Serbia-Montenegro, Divac said he was leaving the Kings.

“It was a great six years in Sacramento,” he said. “I’m sad that I’m leaving, but the Kings did not show any interest to keep me.”

The Lakers drafted Divac in 1989, and he spent seven years in Los Angeles until the team traded him to Charlotte for the draft rights to Kobe Bryant.

HORNETS: New Orleans signed frontcourt reserve Chris Andersen to a two-year contract.

Andersen, who has played primarily power forward and some at center, has averaged 4.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.31 blocks in his three years in the NBA, all with Denver.

BOBCATS: Rapper Nelly is a part-owner of the NBA’s expansion Charlotte Bobcats.

“This is a great opportunity for both the Bobcats and Nelly,” Robert L. Johnson, the team’s majority owner and the founder of Black Entertainment Television, said yesterday in a news release.

“Nelly is a great entertainer and a smart businessman and those two traits will serve us well as we prepare to tipoff our inaugural season this fall.”

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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