Phills playing for the Hornets.
|Born||December 20, 1969|
|Baton Rouge, Louisiana|
|Died||January 12, 2000 (aged 30)|
|Listed height||6 ft 5 in (1.95 m)|
|Listed weight||215 lbs (97 kg)|
|NBA Draft||1991 / Round: 2 / Pick: 45th|
|Selected by the Milwaukee Bucks|
|Pro career||1991-2000 (9 years)|
|Career highlights and awards|
An unheralded 6-5 guard coming out of college, Bobby Phills established himself in the NBA as a versatile player who could contribute at both ends of the floor and a team leader on and off the court before his death in an automobile accident on Jan. 12, 2000. After splitting his first pro season between the CBA and the NBA, Phills went on to play eight more seasons in the NBA. He played six seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, for whom he averaged a career-high 14.6 points per game and earned NBA All-Defensive Second Team honors in 1995-96. He signed with Charlotte as a free agent prior to the 1997-98 season and helped the Hornets to 51 wins and the second round of the playoffs in his first year.
A native of Baton Rouge, La., Phills attended Southern University, where as a freshman he teamed with Avery Johnson. As a senior in 1990-91 Phills finished led the nation in three-pointers made with 4.39 per game, ranked fourth in scoring at 28.4 points per contest and was 13th in steals at 3.2 per game. Phills was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the 1991 NBA Draft, but he was cut by the Bucks in December without playing in a game. He joined the Sioux Falls Sky Force of the Continental Basketball Association and averaged 23.1 points before signing with Cleveland late in the season. He appeared in 10 games for the Cavs in 1991-92, then remained on the roster the following year and saw action in 31 contests. It was in 1993-94 that Phills emerged as a solid NBA player. [[image:bobbyphills.jpg}|right]] He played in 72 games, starting 53 and averaging 8.3 points. He was a regular member of the Cavaliers' starting backcourt in 1994-95 and raised his average over 10 points per game for the first time in his career, finishing at 11.0 ppg. He continued to improve in 1995-96 and developed into a consistent long-distance scoring threat, raising his scoring average to 14.6 ppg, improving his field goal percentage by more than 50 percentage points and ranking seventh in the NBA in three-point accuracy at .441. He continued to excel at the defensive end, and was voted to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team. His statistics tailed off a bit in 1996-97 but he still averaged 12.6 ppg, the second-best figure of his career. Prior to the 1997-98 season he was signed by the Charlotte Hornets as a free agent, and despite missing 20 games due to injury, he averaged 10.4 ppg for his fourth consecutive season in double figures. He improved that to 14.3 ppg in 1998-99, second-best on the team. He had played in 28 games in the 1999-2000 season, nine as a starter, and was averaging 13.6 points per game before he was killed in an automobile accident on Jan. 12, 2000, following the Hornets' morning shootaround.
On January 12, 2000, Phills' life came to a tragic end at age 30 when he was killed in an automobile accident in Charlotte, North Carolina. Phills was traveling behind teammate David Wesley at over 100 mph when his car spun and crossed into oncoming traffic. A police report said the two were driving "erratic, reckless, careless, in a negligent and/or aggressive manner," and the men were "involved in a speed competition." Phills is survived by his wife, Kendall, and two children.
The ceremony included a video tribute and a song performance by Regina Belle, the wife of former NBA player John Battle and close family friend to the Phills. A check for the Bobby Phills Scholarship Fund was presented to Phills' wife, Kendall, from the Charlotte Hornets players. Framed jerseys were presented to Kendall Phills and Bobby's parents, Dr. and Mrs. Bobby Phills Sr. The inscription read, "Son, Husband, Father, Teammate and Friend."
For the finale, Bobby's son, Bobby Ray Phills III - also known as Trey - and brother, Dwayne, raised the No. 13 to the rafters of the Charlotte Coliseum. It was the first number to be retired in franchise history. Everyone in attendance received a card and lapel pin commemorating the jersey retirement, the highest honor a professional sports team can give to a player.
"This tribute by the organization was put together as a way to remember Bobby as a player and as an active member of the Charlotte community," Sam Russo, Hornets executive vice president of business, said before the ceremony. "His jersey hanging from the rafters will be a constant reminder to everyone walking into the building of what a positive role model he was."
Phills was killed Jan. 12 in an automobile accident less than two miles from the Charlotte Coliseum on Tyvola Road after the team's morning shootaround. The team's game uniforms have had a black patch on the right side of the jersey since their first game back. They will continue to wear the patch for the remainder of the season.
On the day of the accident, NBA Commissioner David Stern said, "Bobby Phills represented the very best of the NBA. We all know Bobby was a talented and competitive player. But he was also one of the most respected members of the NBA, a valued teammate and a caring member of the community. He will be greatly missed by the entire NBA family and basketball fans around the world."
The nine-year NBA veteran came to the Hornets as a free agent August 19, 1997. He signed a multiyear contract just one month after the team signed point guard David Wesley to form Charlotte's new backcourt for the 1997-98 season.
Phills was one of the team's leaders, especially for the 1999-2000 season when he was one of the team's co-captains. After two years as a starter, he became one of the Hornets' first players off the bench this season and was one of the leading early candidates for the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award.
In addition to his on-court accomplishments, Phills was known as one of the true gentlemen in the NBA. He was named as one of the four finalists for the NBA's Sportsmanship Award in 1998. Bobby held a bachelor's degree in animal science from Southern University and contemplated a career in veterinary medicine.