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Former Lakers' coach dies

Aug. 24, 2007 at 6:24 PM   |   Comments

SPOKANE, Wash., Aug. 24 (UPI) -- Former Los Angeles Lakers Coach Butch van Breda Kolff has died after battling several illnesses.

The colorful and controversial coach was 84 years old when he died Wednesday at a nursing home in Spokane, Wash.

The former marine sergeant was a head coach for 13 teams at both the college and professional levels, and his career spanned four decades.

He was opinionated and feisty, and likely will be remembered for his feud with all-pro center Wilt Chamberlain in the 1966-67 season.

The feud led to the Lakers' loss to Boston in six games in the NBA Finals.

"I knew Butch a long time, even before he was our coach,” Phoenix Suns General Manager Jerry Colangelo told the East Valley Tribune. “He was a unique guy and a real free spirit. We had a lot of veterans on that team and it just wasn’t working. But he was still a great coach.”

© 2007 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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