Rockets Legend Rudy Tomjanovich Joins Bryant, Duncan as Hall-of-Fame Finalist

Michael Shapiro

Former Rockets head coach Rudy Tomjanovich was named one of eight finalists for the Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday. 

Tomjanovich joins Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett in the list of finalists. Former Baylor women's coach Kim Mulkey, Division II coach Barbara Stevens and former Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton are also finalists, along with four-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings. 

The 71-year-old won 503 games in 12 seasons with the Rockets from 1992-2003. Tomjanovich won two Finals with Houston in 1994 and 1995, and he led the Rockets to the playoffs seven times. 

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich made the case for Tomjanovich's Hall-of-Fame candidacy in December.

“It’s long overdue as I’ve said before each season [when] people ask me,” Popovich said. “He’s got the credentials for it. He’s had those credentials for quite a while. So, it’s sort of a mystery why he’s not in. Hopefully, that will be taken care of.”

Tomjanovich was quite the accomplished player as well. He was an All-American at Michigan in 1970, and he was a five-time NBA All-Star. He is still the Wolverines' all-time rebounding leader, and his No. 45 jersey is retired in Ann Arbor. Tomjanovich was drafted by the San Diego Rockets with the No. 2 pick in the 1970 NBA Draft.

Tomjanovich would be the third Rockets' head coach in the Hall-of-Fame if inducted. Alex Hannum–who led Houston from 1969-71–was inducted in 1998, and Bill Fitch was inducted in 2019. Fitch is the second-winningest coach in Rockets' history, though he leads Mike D'Antoni by just nine games for the No. 2 spot.