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Fratello takes over as Cavaliers coach

Following in the career path of Pat Riley, former Atlanta coach Mike Fratello is giving up his network TV job and returning to the NBA as coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Fratello on Thursday signed a five-year deal as the successor to Lenny Wilkens, who resigned May

24. Wilkens has taken over Fratello's old team, the Hawks.

"There's a very good team here," Fratello said. "There's a new arena on the horizon. There's wonderful fan support and community support."

Fratello flew Thursday morning to Cleveland, hours after his agent finalized the deal with Cavs owner Gordon Gund and general manager Wayne Embry. Fratello then returned immediately to Chicago, where he is working as a TV analyst on NBC's coverage of the NBA Finals.

Like Riley, who worked as an NBC analyst between his coaching stints with the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks, Fratello said he could not get the thrill of coaching out of his system during three years in broadcasting.

"As Pat Riley said, there are two things in coaching: There is winning and there is misery," Fratello said. "Coaching is what I do. Coaching was what I was about.

"It's a completely different feeling being behind the mike, where you are objective, or being emotionally involved each night. I think that's what you miss, the ability to compete."

Fratello went 324-250 in seven seasons from 1983-90, winning 50 or more games from 1985-86 to 1988-89. His teams reached the playoffs five times.

He is assuming control of a Cleveland team that has won more than 50 games three times in five years, including 54 this year, but that has been eliminated from the playoffs four times since 1988 by the Chicago Bulls.

Around the league

Celtic signings: The Boston Celtics solidified ties to their championship past, extending Robert Parish's contract for a year and appointing former stars Larry Bird and Dennis Johnson to management and coaching positions. Terms of Parish's contract were not released, but it has been reported that the 39-year-old center will make $4-million next year, his 14th with the Celtics. Bird will help develop younger players and become more active in senior management functions. Johnson was named an assistant coach.

Photographer sues: A photographer has sued the NBA and NBA Properties for $7.349-million in Manhattan State Supreme Court, charging the league with losing a large number of his slides covering the years 1968 through 1980. Ron Koch of New York said he is missing 1,566 slides valued at $2.349-million. He asked for $5-million in punitive damages in the suit.

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