With former Houston Rockets coaching legend yet to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, it made me wonder what could be the argument against his induction.
It seems pretty obvious that former Houston Rockets coaching legend Rudy Tomjanovich should have been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame by now. There are several valid arguments behind why Rudy T should be in, starting with his Rockets team of the 1994-95 season being the lowest seed to ever win an NBA championship. Aside from that, Tomjanovich ranks 29th in all-time wins while coaching the fewest seasons of anyone ahead of him.
In addition, Rudy T’s two NBA titles are more than that of several Hall of Fame coaches, including Jerry Sloan, Don Nelson, former Rockets Coach Bill Fitch and Lenny Wilkens. This is not to take anything away from any of the accomplishments those famed coaches, as each of them is deserving in their own way. However, the unanimous method of assessing the true greats of the game seems to always come down to rings.
With such an obvious argument behind Rudy T being deserving of a Hall of Fame induction, it makes one wonder what could possibly be the reason it hasn’t happened yet. What exactly could the voters be holding against Tomjanovich?
One reason could be the way his Rockets coaching career ended, as the Rockets missed the playoffs in each of Rudy’s final four seasons in Houston, posting a record of 150-178. On top of that, the last two Rockets teams he led to the playoffs ended up having first-round exits.
It oftentimes gets forgotten about how the Rockets were able to land now Hall of Famer Yao Ming. Tomjanovich’s 2001-02 Rockets team tied for the fourth-fewest wins in Rockets history as they won just 28 games, finishing with a winning percentage of just 34.1 that year.
Although this was the lowest win percentage of any of Rudy T’s seasons with the Rockets, it proved to be pivotal in helping the Rockets win the lottery for the first overall pick in the NBA Draft, which was subsequently used on Yao.
All in all, Tomjanovich’s Rockets actually missed the playoffs in five of his 12 seasons coaching the team, which is nearly just as often as they made the postseason. What also hurts his case is the fact that his successor, Jeff Van Gundy, led the Rockets to the playoffs in each of his first two seasons with a very similar roster. Of course, Yao Ming had developed his game more by then, which is natural considering his rookie year was Rudy’s last year in Houston.
Personally, I find it a travesty that Tomjanovich still hasn’t been inducted in the Hall of Fame, but you have to question if these factors have possibly been playing into why it hasn’t happened by now.
Here’s to hoping the Hall of Fame committee starts focusing more on the accomplishments of Rudy Tomjanovich instead of his downfalls.