In a long overdue moment, maybe one of the most overdue, Houston Rockets legend Rudy Tomjanovich was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame yesterday, culminating a career with the team that spanned 33 years.
Flanked by Hakeem Olajuwon and Calvin Murphy, Rudy then went on to give an epic induction speech, in which he was grateful to just about every person who was part of his basketball journey. It was heartful (could it be any other way with Rudy T), and it was funny. One of my favorite parts:
Among the thanks given by Rudy T in his epic speech -— Adam Wexler (@AdamJWexler) May 15, 2021
"I wanna thank Sam Cassell for having big cojones."
"I wanna thank Mario Elie for being a great kisser, especially from the left corner."@marioelie1 @Hoophall #20HoopClass #Rockets https://t.co/Y21qZRSKQI
He also took up for Robert Horry, the Big Shot Bob of seven championship rings, who Rudy feels also belongs in the Hall of Fame. Tomjanovich said:
“I want to speak up for Robert Horry to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. He’s truly a legendary player. He made so many clutch shots. He’s got seven rings to prove it. This is where he belongs.”
I’m not sure that’s going to happen, though it sure would be a great story.
But Rudy thanked everyone from Vernon Maxwell to Charles Barkley to Carl Herrera, thoroughly honoring all the players who performed under his tutelage.
In addition to his students, he also thanked his teachers, running down a list that included Tex Winter, Del Harris, and the man he replaced in Houston when he took over the head coaching job, Don Chaney.
Here’s the full Hall speech by Rudy. It’s worth the 15 minutes of your time.
In addition, the Hall of Fame put together an induction video with the highlights of of Rudy’s career, and that’s worth a few minutes of your time as well.
Tomjanovich finished his playing career, all with the Rockets, averaging 17.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2 assists per game on 50.1 percent shooting from the field. He then transitioned immediately following retirement into scouting for the team, and then started work as an assistant coach in 1983.
He’d remain an assistant until taking over for Chaney as head coach halfway through the 1992 season. He’d go on to lead the Rockets to back-to-back titles in 1994 and 1995, and stayed with the team until 2003. He’d coach a partial year with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004 before resigning due to health concerns.
He finished his coaching career with a 527-416 (.559) regular season record and was also 51-39 (.567) for his career in the postseason.
Congrats to Rudy T! There’s no one who deserved it more.