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Houston sports icon Rudy Tomjanovich talks about being enshrined among basketball's greats

Rudy T was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Credit: AP
Rudy Tomjanovich speaks during his enshrinement with the 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame class, Saturday, May 15, 2021, in Uncasville, Conn. His two presenters, Hakeem Olajuwon, left, and Calvin Murphy, listen. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

One of the most iconic figures in the history of Houston sports, Rudy Tomjanovich, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday.

Rudy T was selected to the Hall last year but due to the pandemic, the induction ceremony was delayed a year.

Also inducted Saturday were Kim Mulkey, Tim Duncan, Tamika Catchings, Barbara Stevens, Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant.  

You can watch his full induction speech here.

Rudy was born in Hamtramck, Mich., and became a second team All-American while playing at the University of Michigan.

“I had big time goals as a young kid when I thought about my future in basketball but it always about playing,” Rudy said. “My dreams weren’t about being a coach.”

Below is Matt Musil's full interview with Rudy T. that he did before the ceremony. 

Rudy T was drafted out of Michigan by the Rockets with the second overall pick in the 1970 NBA draft and Rudy did accomplish a lot as an NBA player. He was a 5-time All-Star for the Rockets but was also the victim of a vicious punch from Kermit Washington that helped change the rules for fighting in the league.

Rudy suffered life-threatening skull and spinal injuries and he was sidelined for five months. Rudy T came back to play again and he made the All-Star team one more time.

After retiring after the 1980-81 season Rudy served as a scout for the team and eventually became an assistant coach before taking over as head coach in February 1992.

The rest is of his story is the stuff dreams are made of. Rudy T led the Rockets to back to back NBA Championships in 1994 and 1995. He later coached the U.S. Olympic team in 2000, but he was constantly afraid that his team would lose. Never before had a U.S. team made up of NBA players lost in the Olympics.

Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich, center, is surrounded by his team as they hoist the NBA Championship Trophy overhead following the Rockets 113-101 victory over the Orlando Magic in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, Wednesday, June 14, 1995, in Houston. The win gave the Rockets their second straight NBA title, with a 4-0 sweep in the best-of-seven series. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

“When we were trailing Lithuania by one in a game at the Olympics, my life flashed before my eyes. I could see my funeral and people were saying, ’He was a great friend. He was a great dad, but that dummy lost in the Olympics.’”

For the record Rudy coached the team to the Gold medal.

Asked if he has something to say to Houston fans before entering the Hall, Rudy T said, ”I want them to know that they were a part of it. We couldn’t have done it without them.”

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