Rockets legend Rudy Tomjanovich inducted into Basketball Hall of Fame

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Legendary Rockets player and coach Rudy Tomjanovich was officially inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday night. He was honored at the enshrinement ceremony in Springfield, Massachusetts, with Houston franchise icons (and fellow Hall of Famers) Calvin Murphy and Hakeem Olajuwon there to present him.

Murphy was a close friend of Tomjanovich from their playing days, while Olajuwon was the star player during his coaching era.

Upon induction, Tomjanovich said:

I fell in love with basketball the first time I saw it. And as a young boy, I carved into my headboard of my bed, ‘I love basketball.’ And I went to sleep with my hand on that carving and I dreamed — I dreamed of one day getting to the NBA. After today, I can say that my life turned out better than my wildest dreams.

To Murphy and Olajuwon on stage, Tomjanovich said:

Calvin, during my playing days, you were my teammate, my roommate, my neighbor, my best friend and most of all, my brother. We shared so many experiences together, it means so much that you are here to share this with me.

Hakeem, you more than anyone are responsible for me being here. You are the best player to ever wear a Houston Rockets jersey and one of the best of all time. You gave us your excellence, your leadership and your big heart. And you taught me something very valuable; the importance of spirituality in all phases of my life.

Tomjanovich also thanked a number of other players from his 1990s Rockets teams, including Kenny Smith, Otis Thorpe, Clyde Drexler, Vernon Maxwell, Sam Cassell, Mario Elie, and Carl Herrera.

Now 72 years old, Tomjanovich played for the Rockets from 1970 through 1981, and was head coach from 1992 through 2003. That run included Houston’s only two NBA titles in the 1993-94 and 1994-95 seasons.

In his 11-plus seasons as head coach, Tomjanovich led the Rockets to a 503-397 (.559) regular-season record and a 51-39 (.567) mark in the NBA playoffs, headlined by Houston’s two championships in 1994 and 1995. He is by far the winningest coach in franchise history.

But “Rudy T,” as he’s best known in Rockets’ circles, was also a dynamic player ⁠— with averages of 17.4 points and 8.1 rebounds in 33.5 minutes per game over 11 seasons. He was a five-time All-Star at power forward.

“I want to thank the fans for their undying support,” Tomjanovich said on Saturday from the Hall of Fame stage. “We couldn’t have done it without you. I feel your spirit right here, Houston.”

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Tomjanovich had been the only coach in history with multiple NBA titles and an Olympic gold medal who was not in the Hall of Fame. He was the only NBA head coach among the 2020 inductees, who had their enshrinements delayed by nine months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Players to be inducted alongside “Rudy T” in the Class of 2020 included Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, and the late Kobe Bryant.

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Rudy Tomjanovich Hakeem Olajuwon
Rudy Tomjanovich Hakeem Olajuwon
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