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Congratulations, Rudy T!

Long overdue.

At last, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame no longer will underestimate the accomplishments of a champion.

Rockets icon Rudy Tomjanovich will be named Saturday to the Hall of Fame Class of 2020, a person with knowledge of the voting said Friday.

While Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett undoubtedly will headline the class in their first season of eligibility, the coach who long had fallen short in the voting will receive the call his peers and successors had so badly wanted for him.

Tomjanovich, 71, received at least the 18 votes necessary from the 24-person Hall of Fame panel after he fell short of being a finalist last year and couldn’t garner enough votes in two previous seasons as a finalist. He had been the only coach to lead teams to multiple NBA championships and an Olympic gold medal who wasn’t in the Hall of Fame.

An All-American at Michigan and a five-time All-Star as a Rockets player, Tomjanovich will be inducted as a coach who long has been celebrated by his peers.

“Everybody knows when he said, “Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion,” he was talking about his team,” former Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said. “But unfortunately, that’s what’s happened to him. Everybody’s underestimated him and his accomplishments and his heart and his class. To me, it’s an absolute shame … I hope they rectify.”

Besides Bryant, Duncan, Garnett and Tomjanovich, Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, former Kentucky, Arkansas and Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton, former Indiana Fever and Olympic star Tamika Catchings and Bentley coach Barbara Stevens were named as finalists.

That story was written before the formal announcement, which confirmed Rudy T’s enshrinement. If there’s one thing that cemented my identity as a Houstonian, it’s the 1993-94 Rockets’ championship run, which was just amazing to watch. (Their encore in ’94-95 didn’t hurt, either.) Great team, super coach, well-deserved honor, I’m overjoyed to see it. Congrats all around.

(By the way, kids, did you know that back in the year 1994, the first round of the NBA playoffs was mostly on pay-per-view? I watched several of those games, in ’95 as well, at sports bars because of that. It boggles my mind to think about it now, but that was the state of the NBA on TV at that time.)

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4 Comments

  1. David Fagan says:

    At a time where people are dealing with a pandemic, it is an opportune time to realize the futility of professional sports. If it is the thing that makes you happy, find another avenue for that joy, if it is an escape, find one that doesn’t require the sacrifice of financial wealth on items like jerseys, or over priced beer, because those things have not contributed to anything we are dealing with today. The 1990’s may have been a different time, but they don’t help now. Professional sports are overrated, but require the participation of people who cannot afford it.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    David,

    I agree that the 90’s WERE a different time, but I think you underestimate the morale boost the city, and indeed, the whole region got from the Rockets’ wins. It was a heady time. People all across the board were friendlier, happier, and certainly not viciously divided, as we’ve grown to be over the last 20 years. Go anywhere in the city and people who might never ever speak to one another were striking up conversations about the Rockets. It was just….nice.

    True, we’re all discovering just exactly what really IS essential, and ballplayers aren’t it, but I think most Houstonians that were here during Clutch City have fond memories of that time.

  3. Joel says:

    Our entire economic system is based on getting people to spend money on things they don’t need. But you’ve decided to make your stand on THIS, DF?

    Three cheers for Rudy T, who gave Houston its first (and still only legit) major sports titles, and is also a heck of a baller and a heck of a guy.

  4. David fagan says:

    Yes, I am very critical of professional sports.

    “But you’ve decided to make your stand on THIS, DF?” No, it’s just the Astros are too easy and self explanatory. I did not spend any money on the Astros at that time, but someone insisted on buying me a shirt. I think I wore it once because they asked me to, but I believe I will wear it now with ironic pride.

    Someone needs to buy all the tshirts and memorabilia junk for the Astros and commission an art exhibit. A featured artist that has been in HMFA so there would be no excuse for not exhibiting ot there. Getting the t shirts shouldn’t be too expensive now.