Born: February 24, 1947
Michael Robert Fratello was born February 24, 1947 in Hackensack. Quick, clever and powerfully built, Mike was an excellent all-around athlete who captained the baseball, basketball, football and field hockey teams at Hackensack despite standing just 5’7”. An offensive lineman for the Comets, Mike was recruited as a center by the Montclair State football team. After college, he returned to his alma mater as an assistant basketball and football coach.
Mike got his first college basketball coaching job as assistant to Tom Carmody at Rhode Island in 1970. He worked under Lou Campanelli at James Madison and then Rollie Massimino at Villanova. In 1978–79, Mike moved into the pro ranks as an assistant to Hubie Brown with the Atlanta Hawks. After a year with the Knicks, he returned to Atlanta as an NBA head coach in 1983–84.
After a couple of so-so seasons, Mike guided the Hawks to four straight 50-win seasons. Among his star players were Dominique Wilkins, Eddie Jordan, Spud Webb, Kevin Willis, John Batlte and Tree Rollins. Unfortunately the Hawks never got past the second round of the playoffs. Mike was relieved of his duties following a 41–41 campaign in 1989–90. He was named NBA Coach of the Year in 1985–86. In 1993, Mike took the head job in Cleveland. He led the Cavs to five straight winning seasons before the abbreviated 1999 schedule, during which the team went 22–28.
In 2004, Mike was hired by the Memphis Grizzlies after a dismal 5–1 start. He turned the club around at the Grizzlies made the playoffs. The team returned to the playoffs in 2005–06 with 49 victories. A slow start in 2006 cost Mike his job. He later coached Ukraine’s national team. His 667 victories in the NBA ranks him in the Top 20 all-time.
Between coaching stints, Mike found work with NBC, TNT and YES as an on-air analyst. He was one of the most respected minds in the game, and he lent valuable depth to their broadcasts.