Hill ecstatic to be back with Magic

By Times Staff Writer
Published May 25, 2005

ORLANDO - The Magic reached back to its successful past Tuesday and hired Brian Hill as its coach.

Hill, an assistant with the Nets the past two seasons, took the Magic to its only Finals appearance in 1995. In three-plus seasons with Orlando, he won a franchise-leading 191 games against 104 losses, and his .647 winning percentage also is the best in team history.

Introduced at a news conference to the Welcome Back, Kotter theme song, Hill, 57, said he often thought of returning to Orlando despite an ugly parting in 1997.

"It's always kind of been in the back of my heart to get back to the Magic organization," said Hill. "When you have something good and you leave it, and then you have substitutes, things to compare it to, you realize, "That thing was pretty darn good.' "

Hill, who also coached Vancouver, has a career coaching record of 222-227 with three postseason appearances.

The Magic first contacted Hill more than two weeks ago, then made him an offer Sunday night after a meeting between Hill, team owner Rich DeVos and president and chief executive officer Bob Vander Weide.

"He is experienced, disciplined, structure-oriented and excellent in regard to game preparation and ingame strategy," Vander Weide said in a statement. "In addition, he brings a great deal of energy to the post. The bottom line: The organization is excited to have him back, and it just feels right."

Other candidates were Magic interim coach Chris Jent, former Minnesota coach Flip Saunders and Memphis assistant Eric Musselman.

Bucks get top pick

SECAUCUS, N.J. - Milwaukee beat the odds and won the draft lottery.

The Bucks, who had only a 6.3 percent chance of winning, now have the options of dealing the No.1 pick in the June 28 draft, using it to entice Michael Redd to re-sign or simply choosing a talented player such as center Andrew Bogut, forward Marvin Williams or point guard Chris Paul.

"It certainly opens up opportunities with other teams that would like to get the first pick," Bucks general manager Larry Harris said. "We are in position now where we control the draft."

DETROIT 74, SAN ANTONIO 65: Cheryl Ford scored 15 and the host Shock used a game-ending 20-2 run to stun the Silver Stars. San Antonio rookie Kendra Wecker will have surgery on her right knee and likely miss the rest of the season.

WASHINGTON: Former TV executive Sheila Johnson became the league's first black female owner when she joined a group that purchased the Mystics.