Hubie Brown said he stepped down as the coach of the Memphis Grizzlies for two reasons: He lost his spirit, and because of medical issues he wants to keep private.
"I need on a daily basis an energy and a stamina, and then with me it's a spirit," Brown said on Friday at a news conference. "But the key is spirit. See, the spirit is what gives you the passion on a daily basis.
"One day you wake up, you don't have that, and that's when you've got to understand that it's time you've got to walk."
Brown led Memphis to a franchise-best 50-32 record last season and its first playoff appearance. He was given medical clearance to return for his third season with the Grizzlies and had said he had no hesitation coming back.
But he announced his retirement a day after the Grizzlies fell to 5-7 with a 93-84 loss to the Seattle SuperSonics. Brown is 424-495 in the NBA and 528-559 including ABA games.
"We're going to miss this man tremendously, and more importantly, I think his footprints here ... will be hard to fill," Grizzlies president Jerry West said.
Lionel Hollins was named the team's interim coach and was with the team in Minneapolis for its game on Friday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Brown said his medical problem developed about three weeks ago.
"People are thinking catastrophic levels. ... We're not talking about that," Brown said, declining to be more specific. "I've had things come up that your body gives you a warning sign."
Brown, who led the Kentucky Colonels to the ABA championship in 1975, returned to coaching in 2002 after a 16-year break during which he became a TV analyst. He also coached the Atlanta Hawks from 1976-1981 and the New York Knicks from 1982-1986.
At every stop, Brown's teams won more games in his first full season than in the previous year.
Brown leaves as the winningest coach in Memphis history with an 83-85 record.
He told his team of his decision before they left for Minnesota.
"I told them you have regrets when you do this. My biggest regret is that I didn't meet them when I was in my 40s and 50s because I had more to give than I do now because I was more alert, more astute, more observant and I saw more," Brown said, "and I apologized to them because I met them too late in my life."
Lionel Hollins lost his debut as interim coach of the Grizzlies on Friday as Kevin Garnett grabbed 26 points and 15 rebounds and Latrell Sprewell added 22 points to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves over Memphis 115-90.
The Timberwolves had their highest scoring output of the season as well as a season-low nine turnovers in snapping a two-game losing streak.
"A lot of times teammates feed off the energy, and I think that was the case tonight," Sprewell said.
Mike Miller scored 19 points for Memphis, which was playing its first game following the sudden resignation of Hubie Brown. The 71-year-old coach called it quits seven months after being selected Coach of the Year, citing the rigors of day-to-day life in the league and a health issue he described as non-catastrophic.
"It's always tough when you lose the heart of your team, but that's still no excuse," Miller said. "You got to go out there and perform."
Cavaliers 98, Celtics 96
In Boston, Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 26 points, including the game-winning jumper on an assist from LeBron James with 19 seconds left to give Cleveland a win over Boston.