Ex-Rockets star Mario Elie claims Rudy Tomjanovich ‘needs to be in the Hall of Fame’
Former Houston Rockets guard Mario Elie stated the case for why his old head coach–Rudy Tomjanovich–should be in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on Sunday.
Elie told Fox 26 KRIV-Houston reporter Mark Berman that Tomjanovich’s contributions as a player and especially a coach need to be recognized and that his background and story make should make him a shoo-in for enshrinement.
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) June 9, 2019
Before he was an NBA champion as a head coach, Tomjanovich was a star in 10 seasons as a member of the Houston Rockets. He averaged 17.4 points and 8.1 rebounds while shooting over 50 percent from the floor for his career, and was named to the All-Star team five times.
Unfortunately, his playing career is marked by a horrific incident with former Los Angeles Lakers player Kermit Washington. During a regular season game in December of 1977, Washington and Tomjanovich got into a scuffle in which Washington landed a punch to Tomjanovich’s jaw, a life-threatening injury that nearly derailed his career. Miraculously, he would make the All-Star team two years later.
But for as good a story and as productive as he was as a player, Tomjanovich’s most memorable contributions to the Rockets franchise certainly came in a suit and tie, rather than a pair of shorts. Tomjanovich was hired as an assistant coach prior to the 1983-84 season and was named the interim head coach after Don Chaney’s resignation in 1992.
Tomjanovich would then lead the Rockets to back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and 1995, including becoming the lowest seed (six) to ever win the title, assisted by Elie’s “Kiss of Death” shot in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Phoenix Suns.