Former Rockets Coach Rudy Tomjanovich Elected to Basketball Hall of Fame

Michael Shapiro

Former Rockets head coach Rudy Tomjanovich was officially elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday. 

Tomjanovich was named a Hall-of-Fame finalist on Feb. 14 along with Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett among others. The three players were also announced as official inductees into the Class of 2020 on Saturday.

Former Oklahoma State head coach Eddie Sutton and Baylor coach Kim Mulkey were additionally enshrined, as was WNBA legend Tamika Catchings.

“Congratulations to Rudy T on his well-deserved and long overdue selection to the Hall of Fame,” Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said in a statement. “As a longtime Rockets fan, I admired Rudy’s tenacity as a player and loved watching his attention to detail in coaching the back-to-back championship teams in the 90’s. Heart of a champion! This is an exciting day not only for Rudy and his family, but for Rockets fans everywhere.”

Tomjanovich is the Rockets' franchise leader in wins, and he led Houston to back-to-back championships in 1994 and 1995. The Rockets reached the playoffs seven times in 12 seasons under Tomjanovich, and they won 55-plus games in three of Tomjanovich's first five seasons as head coach. 

The 71-year-old was an impressive player as well after being selected out of Michigan No. 2 in the 1970 NBA Draft. Tomjanovich was a five-time All-Star in 11 seasons with the Rockets, playing his rookie season in the franchise's last year in San Diego. Tomjanovich is a Rockets' lifer in every sense of the word. 

Tomjanovich was named a Hall-of-Fame finalist in 2017 and 2018, but he missed out on the finalist list in 2019. 

"I don't understand, for the life of me, how someone who could be casting a ballot, could say he's not worthy," former Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy told Berman in December 2019. "It's nonsense. It's just nonsense."

Tomjanovich's wait may have been frustrating, but it's now over. The best coach in Rockets' history is headed to the Hall-of-Fame. 

The official Hall-of-Fame announcement will be broadcast on ESPN at 11 a.m. CT.