Steve Clifford has heart procedure

Updated: November 9, 2013, 2:07 AM ET
By Ian Begley | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Charlotte Bobcats announced that head coach Steve Clifford underwent a successful procedure Friday to have two stents placed in his heart.

Bobcats president of basketball operations Rod Higgins said in release Friday that Clifford is "resting comfortably" in the hospital but it's too early to know when he'll return to work. Higgins says Clifford checked himself into the hospital Thursday night because he was suffering from chest pains.

Clifford told ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne in a text early Saturday that he was feeling "a lot better."

[+] EnlargeSteve Clifford
AP Photo/Nell RedmondBobcats coach Steve Clifford underwent a procedure Friday to have two stents placed in his heart.

Clifford, 52, joined the Bobcats this offseason after spending last year as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Bobcats were off to a 3-2 start under Clifford, before Friday night's 101-91 loss to the New York Knicks.

Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing served as Charlotte's acting head coach in Clifford's stead.

"It's definitely not the way I wanted to start my head coaching career with him being in the hospital," Ewing said before the game.

Ewing said he spoke with Clifford on Friday and he's optimistic that Clifford will be out of the hospital shortly.

"He sounded good, cracking jokes, trying to calm me down. He's ready to get out," Ewing said.

Clifford is the second coach in the four major sports to be hospitalized in recent days. Denver Broncos coach John Fox was admitted with chest pains last week after experiencing pain on the golf course.

"I just think sports, coaching in general, playing, physically you've got to try to keep up," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "When stuff like that happens it scares me because I've seen it on the players side when I lost a player (Atlanta's Jason Collier) due to a heart attack. That's tough."

Ewing said Clifford offered him some advice before his coaching debut. The former Knicks legend also heard from ex-Knicks coach and current ESPN NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy as well as Bobcats executive Michael Jordan.

"(Jordan) called me and told me if I don't win I'm fired," Ewing said jokingly. "He said it's very ironic that my first opportunity to be a head coach is against the Knicks."

Ewing was passed over several times for assistant and head coaching jobs by New York after his 17-year playing career.

The Knicks made Ewing an offer to coach the team's D-League affiliate, the Erie BayHawks, last season but Ewing declined because he wanted to remain in the NBA, according to a source.

"I don't even worry about that. All I worry about is getting our team ready, getting our team focused," Ewing said on Friday. "Not many (Bobcats players) know that Cliff is not going to be coaching tonight. I have to relay that to them.

"Apart from all that stuff, I'm happy with the Knicks, I'm happy with (Knicks owner and MSG chairman James) Dolan. And I'm just having an opportunity here and I'm going to try to do the best of my ability to try to help us to win."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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