Suns Accepting Nominations for Spirit of Cotton Award

PHOENIX – Phoenix Suns Charities will once again honor the memory of former Suns head coach, Cotton Fitzsimmons, with its annual Spirit of Cotton Award.

The award recognizes a high school basketball coach who consistently demonstrates the best qualities of coach, educator, mentor and community leader. These are the same characteristics that made Cotton Fitzsimmons such a successful and respected coach. All high school head basketball coaches in Arizona are eligible to be nominated. Nominations can be made by a community member, fellow coach/teacher, school administrator or student-athlete.

The Spirit of Cotton Award winner will receive a Phoenix Suns Charities grant of $10,000 for use in the school’s athletic program, as well as a commemorative plaque and ring.

Nominations for the Spirit of Cotton Award are being accepted now through March 15, 2014. The winner will be announced and honored during a special on-court presentation with JoAnn Fitzsimmons, wife of Cotton Fitzsimmons, at the Suns-New York Knicks game on March 28. For more information on the Spirit of Cotton Award, or to download a nomination form, please visit SunsCharities.org.

Previous Spirit of Cotton Award recipients include Sam Duane of Corona del Sol High School (2013), Raul Mendoza of Holbrook High School (2012), Byron Maynes of Salome High School (2011), David Lopez of St. Mary’s High School in Phoenix (2010), Howard Mueller of Phoenix Greenway High School (2009) and Karen Self of Seton Catholic High School in Chandler (2008).

Fitzsimmons, who passed away in July 2004, had been an integral part of the Suns franchise since 1970, at which time he began his first of three stints as the team’s head coach. He returned to the Suns in 1987 as director of player personnel. In 1988-89, Fitzsimmons once again added coaching to his duties and engineered what, at the time, was the third-biggest one-season turnaround in NBA history, converting the Suns from a 28-win non-playoff team to a 55-win team that advanced to the 1989 Western Conference Finals.

Over a 20-year NBA coaching career, Fitzsimmons won 832 games with four different franchises. He was twice honored as NBA Coach of the Year (1979 with Kansas City, 1989 with the Suns).

Founded in 1988, Phoenix Suns Charities is the non-profit organization and philanthropic cornerstone of the Phoenix Suns. Dedicated to enhancing the lives of Arizona’s children and their families, Suns Charities has raised more than $14 million for more than 200 charitable organizations in Arizona throughout the past 26 years.