Bobby Phills (– January 12, 2000)

Bobby Ray Phills II (December 20, 1969 – January 12, 2000) was an American professional basketball player. He played shooting guard and small forward for the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers and Charlotte Hornets.

A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Phills attended Baton Rouge’s Southern University. He was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1991 NBA Draft (45th overall).

After being cut in December 1991 without playing a game for the Cavaliers, Phills had a stint with the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the Continental Basketball Association before being signed by the Cavaliers and rejoining the NBA late in the 1991–92 season. Over his nine-year career, he averaged 11.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game. He was known as a defensive stopper, averaging 1.3 steals per game for his career, and an excellent perimeter shooter, with a 39.0% career three-point shooting percentage.

Though he made a name for himself as a shooter during his college career, Phills became known as a tenacious wing defender in the NBA. At 6′ 5″ and 220 pounds, he was said to more resemble an NFL linebacker than a basketball player. In 1996, Michael Jordan remarked that Phills was the toughest defender he had ever faced.

On January 12, 2000, while a member of the Charlotte Hornets, Phills was killed in a car accident in Charlotte, North Carolina. Phills was traveling behind teammate David Wesley at over 75 mph (121 km/h) when his Porsche spun and crossed into oncoming traffic. It hit another car, which in turn was struck in the rear by a minivan.The drivers of the other two vehicles recovered, while Phills was pronounced dead at the scene. A police report said Phills and Wesley were driving “in an erratic, reckless, careless, in a negligent or aggressive manner.” Wesley later was convicted of reckless driving after being cleared of a racing charge.

The Hornets retired his #13 jersey number on February 9, 2000, in a game vs. Phills’ former team, the Cavaliers. Phills was the first number that the Hornets franchise had ever retired. It continued to hang for the original Hornets franchise until the end of the first season, when the team moved to New Orleans. In 2004, the NBA added an expansion team, the Charlotte Bobcats. After the New Orleans team re-branded themselves as the New Orleans Pelicans, relinquishing the name, the Bobcats became the Hornets. On November 1, 2014, the newly renamed team rehung his jersey from the rafters of Time Warner Cable Arena.


Career highlights and awards
NBA All-Defensive Second Team (1996)
No. 13 retired by Charlotte Hornets
First-team All-SWAC (1991)
Career NBA statistics
Points 5,153 (11.0 ppg)
Assists 1,246 (2.7 apg)
Steals 592 (1.3 spg)