Scotty Robertson, first coach
of New Orleans Jazz, dies at 81
archiveScotty Robertson, the first coach of the New Orleans Jazz and longtime
Louisiana Tech men's basketball coach, died Thursday in Ruston after battling
a lengthy illness.
After leaving New Orleans, Robertson coached the Chicago Bulls to an 11-15 mark in the 1978-79 season before moving on to coach the Detroit Pistons from 1980 to 1983, compiling a 97-149 record. In his last season with the Pistons, Robertson finished 37-45 with players who would become the core of the Pistons’ championship teams a short time later: Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer and Kelly Tripucka.
Robertson also was an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns, which in 1992-93 Robertson helped guide to the NBA Finals. He also coached in two NBA All-Star Games.
But Robertson, a Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame inductee in 1998, had most of his success on the bench at Louisiana Tech. He coached the Bulldogs from 1964 to 1974 and compiled a 161-86 record, winning three Gulf States Conference titles and making two NCAA Tournament appearances. He was voted the conference coach of the year in 1967 and 1971, when the Bulldogs made the NCAA Tournament.
“Scotty Robertson is one of the all-time greats at Louisiana Tech,” Athletics Director Bruce Van De Velde said in a statement. “His legacy lives on through the many student-athletes whose lives he has influenced in such a positive manner. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Scotty and his family.”
Robertson’s best record at Louisiana Tech was 23-3 during the 1971-72 season. Arguably, Robertson’s best player for the Bulldogs was 6-foot-10 center Mike Green, the Southland Conference Player of the Year in 1973. Green played in the ABA and the NBA.
Robertson was born in Fort Smith, Ark., in 1930 and moved to Shreveport in sixth grade. He played basketball and baseball for Byrd High School, where he graduated in 1947. After graduating from Louisiana Tech in 1951, he played baseball in the Chicago White Sox organization before returning to basketball as a coach.
He coached high school basketball for 12 years, including eight at Byrd, compiling a 163-91 record.
Robertson is survived by his wife of 61 years, Betty Lou Lancaster Robertson, daughters Libby Robertson Power, Claudia Robertson Fowler, Vicki Robertson Page and 10 grandchildren.
Services will be held in Ruston on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Trinity Methodist Church, 1000 W. Woodward Ave.