Rudy Tomjanovich in February 2009
November 24, 1948|
|Listed height||6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)|
|Listed weight||228 lb (103 kg)|
|High school||Hamtramck (Hamtramck, Michigan)|
|NBA draft||1970 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2nd overall|
|Selected by the San Diego Rockets|
|1970–1981||San Diego / Houston Rockets|
|1983–1992||Houston Rockets (assistant)|
|2004–2005||Los Angeles Lakers|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Points||13,383 (17.4 ppg)|
|Rebounds||6,198 (8.1 rpg)|
|Assists||1,573 (2.0 apg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Rudolph Tomjanovich Jr. (born November 24, 1948) is an American retired basketball player and coach who coached the Houston Rockets to two consecutive NBA championships. He was an All-Star forward for the Rockets during his playing career.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Personal life
- 3 NBA career statistics
- 4 Head coaching record
- 5 Accomplishments
- 6 See also
- 7 Footnotes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Tomjanovich was born in Hamtramck, Michigan, to a family of Croatian descent. He attended high school in Hamtramck and later the University of Michigan (from 1967 to 1970). He was a high school teammate of ABA player John Brisker.
In college, Tomjanovich set Michigan Wolverines men's basketball career rebounding records that continue to stand. In 1968 he earned second team All-Big Ten honors, which he followed with first-team honors in 1969 and 1970. During 1970 he was also an All-American.
Tomjanovich was selected in the 1970 NBA draft as the second overall pick by the San Diego Rockets (the franchise relocated to Houston in 1971), for whom he would play the entirety of his NBA career. He was also drafted in both 1970 and 1974 by the Utah Stars of the ABA. In his eleven years in the NBA, Tomjanovich had a scoring average of 17.4 points and a rebounding average of 8.1, earning five All-Star Game selections in the process (1974–1977, 1979). He is the third-leading scorer in Rockets history behind Hall of Famers Calvin Murphy and Hakeem Olajuwon. Because his last name was so long, the back of Tomjanovich's jerseys would read "RUDY T.", rather than his 11 character name.
The Rockets retired Tomjanovich's #45 jersey upon the conclusion of his playing career. His collegiate jersey, also #45, was retired by the University of Michigan in 2003.
The Kermit Washington Incident
Despite Tomjanovich's noteworthy career as a player, he is perhaps best remembered for an infamous occurrence at the height of his playing career. In a December 9, 1977 game, the Los Angeles Lakers' Kermit Washington punched Tomjanovich. The blow shattered Tomjanovich's jaw and face and inflicted life-threatening head injuries, leaving him sidelined for five months. He eventually made a full recovery, and would even make an All-Star team two years later. However, his playing career slowly came to a halt and he was forced to retire in his mid-30s. The story and aftermath are recounted in the John Feinstein book The Punch: One Night, Two Lives, and the Fight That Changed Basketball Forever.
Tomjanovich was named the Rockets' interim head coach in February 1992 after Chaney's resignation. After nearly leading the Rockets to a playoff berth, he was given the job on a permanent basis.
In his first full season on the job (1992–93), Tomjanovich guided the Rockets to the Midwest Division title, making him the first head coach to ever take his team from the lottery to a division crown during his first full season. Building on this success, Rudy T. led the team to back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and 1995; additionally, the Rockets were the only team other than the Chicago Bulls to win multiple championships during the 1990s, with their titles being bookended by the Bulls' two runs of three consecutive titles each. On the playoff run to their second title, the Rockets became the lowest seed (sixth) to win one, and the only team in history to defeat the teams with the four best regular season records in the playoffs. It was on the floor of The Summit after they captured their second title that Rudy proclaimed, "Don't ever underestimate the heart of a champion!" In his 11-plus season tenure as Rockets head coach, he posted a 503–397 (.559) regular-season record and a 51–39 (.567) playoff mark. His career wins and winning percentage are Rockets franchise records. After the 1998-99 season, the Rockets would not make the playoffs for the rest of his coaching tenure, and would consistently finish in the division cellar; Tomjanovich left the team after the 2002–03 season when he was diagnosed with bladder cancer (from which he has since made a full recovery ), ending a 33-year association with the Rockets franchise—including its first 32 years in Houston—as a player, assistant coach and head coach.
U.S. national basketball team
In 1998, Tomjanovich volunteered to coach the U.S. men's senior basketball team at the FIBA World Championship in Greece. Despite the absence of NBA players due to contract negotiations, Tomjanovich guided the hastily assembled group of CBA players to the bronze medal. In light of his outstanding service in coaching at the 1998 Worlds and his stellar professional resume, Tomjanovich was tabbed to coach the U.S. men's senior team at the Games of the XXVII Olympiad in Sydney, Australia. The U.S. Team won the gold medal with an 8–0 record. On February 15, 2006, Tomjanovich was named director of scouting for USA Men's Basketball.
Los Angeles Lakers
In 2004, Tomjanovich signed a five-year, $30 million contract to replace Phil Jackson as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. He resigned after 41 games, citing mental and physical exhaustion unrelated to his past bout with bladder cancer. The Lakers paid him a $10 million settlement, leading to speculation that the Lakers had instead terminated his contract. Tomjanovich stayed with the Lakers as a consultant.
Tomjanovich was well known for his instinctive managerial style and intensity on the bench. Always self-deprecating, he nonetheless heaped tremendous pressure on himself and his assistants to be prepared for each game, several times being hospitalized for exhaustion. After winning back-to-back titles, Tomjanovich deflected much of the praise and eschewed the "genius" label assigned to other champion coaches like Chuck Daly and Phil Jackson. His hands-off, easy-going manner with his players gave him a reputation as a "players coach", and as such veteran players were eager to play on his teams. Among the stars who requested and were granted trades to Houston during his tenure were Clyde Drexler, Charles Barkley, and Scottie Pippen.
In 1970, Tomjanovich married Sophie Migas, a former cheerleader. They have a son, Trey, born in 1982.
Tomjanovich has participated with the Texas Children's Cancer Center to help raise funds for cancer research. He has also helped promote a deadbolt called the "Ultimate Lock" and CieAura health care products.
NBA career statistics
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
Head coaching record
|Regular season||G||Games coached||W||Games won||L||Games lost||W–L %||Win–loss %|
|Post season||PG||Playoff games||PW||Playoff wins||PL||Playoff losses||PW–L %||Playoff win–loss %|
|Houston||1991–92||30||16||14||.533||3rd in Midwest||—||—||—||—||Missed Playoffs|
|Houston||1992–93||82||55||27||.671||1st in Midwest||12||6||6||.500||Lost in Conf. Semifinals|
|Houston||1993–94||82||58||24||.707||1st in Midwest||23||15||8||.652||Won NBA Championship|
|Houston||1994–95||82||47||35||.573||3rd in Midwest||22||15||7||.682||Won NBA Championship|
|Houston||1995–96||82||48||34||.585||3rd in Midwest||8||3||5||.375||Lost in Conf. Semifinals|
|Houston||1996–97||82||57||25||.695||2nd in Midwest||16||9||7||.563||Lost in Conf. Finals|
|Houston||1997–98||82||41||41||.500||4th in Midwest||5||2||3||.400||Lost in First Round|
|Houston||1998–99||50||31||19||.620||3rd in Midwest||4||1||3||.250||Lost in First Round|
|Houston||1999–00||82||34||48||.415||6th in Midwest||—||—||—||—||Missed Playoffs|
|Houston||2000–01||82||45||37||.549||5th in Midwest||—||—||—||—||Missed Playoffs|
|Houston||2001–02||82||28||54||.341||5th in Midwest||—||—||—||—||Missed Playoffs|
|Houston||2002–03||82||43||39||.524||5th in Midwest||—||—||—||—||Missed Playoffs|
- NBA Champion head coach (1994, 1995)
- Head coach of the gold medalist USA men's basketball team at the 2000 Summer Olympics
- Head coach of the bronze medalist USA men's basketball team at the 1998 FIBA World Championship
- 5-time All-Star (1974–1977, 1979)
- NCAA All-American (1970)
- All-time University of Michigan leader in rebounds. Second on U-M all-time list in points per game
- Holds the Crisler Arena single game scoring and rebounding records
- Averaged 17.4 points per game on 50.1% shooting during his NBA career
- Michigan Sports Hall of Fame
- Robert Bajruši (16 March 2004). "Mislio sam da sam Poljak dok mi roditelji nisu rekli sa smo Hrvati" [I thought I was Polish until my parents told me we were Croats] (in Croatian). Nacional (weekly). Archived from the original on 4 July 2012. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
- Michael Wallis (November 13, 1978). "Severely Injured by a Rival Player's Punch, Rudy Tomjanovich Enjoys An Amazing Comeback". People. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
- "Missing, presumed dead". Washington Times. September 20, 2002. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
- 2007-08 Men's Basketball Media Guide. University of Michigan. 2007. p. 166.
- 2007-08 Men's Basketball Media Guide. University of Michigan. 2007. p. 147.
- 2007-08 Men's Basketball Media Guide. University of Michigan. 2007. p. 145.
- 1970 ABA Draft Archived 2014-07-16 at the Wayback Machine.
- 1974 ABA Draft Archived 2014-07-14 at the Wayback Machine.
- "NBA Truth & Rumors: May 12, 2005". SI.com. May 13, 2005. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
- Lazenby, Roland (2006). The Show: The Inside Story of the Spectacular Los Angeles Lakers in the Words of Those Who Lived It. New York City: McGraw-Hill Professional. p. 436. ISBN 978-0-07-143034-0. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
- Crowe, Jerry (May 27, 2008). "Tomjanovich loves the game and the long view". latimes.com. Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 27 September 2015. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
- Jonathan Feigen. "Rudy T's new calling helps others". Houston Chronicle. September 21, 2009. Retrieved on March 7, 2010.
- Feinstein, John. The Punch: One Night, Two Lives, and the Fight That Changed Basketball Forever. Publisher: Back Bay Books. ISBN 0-316-73563-9
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