Rockets: Rudy Tomjanovich shares funny story of facing Wilt Chamberlain

Houston Rockets Rudy Tomjanovich (Photo by Kirby Lee/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Rudy Tomjanovich (Photo by Kirby Lee/Getty Images) /

Houston Rockets legend and soon-to-be Hall of Famer Rudy Tomjanovich took to Twitter Friday and shared his favorite moment as a player.

After years of being snubbed by the Basketball Hall of Fame, coach Rudy Tomjanovich will finally represent the Houston Rockets in the 2020 class. The two-time NBA champion coach took some time on Friday to answer fan questions and recall his fondest memories from his legendary career as a player and coach.

Rudy T addressed several pressing questions that included how the 1994 title helped the 1995 team repeat, what it was like coaching Hakeem Olajuwon and where his “heart of a champion” quote originated.

It was the final question, however, that brought out an amusing tale from Coach Tomjanovich. The question was simple: What was your favorite moment as a player? “The best way for me to score was to get offensive rebounds,” began Rudy. “I was a maniac at it.”

Tomjanovich is still currently number five in offensive boards with the Rockets with 1,173, so his statement checks out. Tomjanovich continued:

“When we played against the Lakers, Wilt Chamberlain would stand under the basket. When I was doing my rebounding thing, I’d go up and be by the basket and by butt would come down and hit Wilt on the shoulder. After a couple of these, in a deep baritone voice he said ‘Tomjanovich, don’t come into the paint anymore, jumping on my back.”

While admittedly stunned that Wilt even knew his name, Tomjanovich recalls his voice cracking as he responded back to Chamberlain: “Wilt, I’m just out here trying to do my job.”

After the incident happened a few more times, Tomjanovich recalls Wilt grabbing his arm and not letting go even after the foul was whistled.

“At that time, he’s known as the strongest man in the world, so I’ve gotta do something,” continued Tomjanovich. “I turned quickly to him and I put my finger in his face and I shook it like this, and he let me go.”

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As Rudy headed to the bench, his teammates asked how he was able to get Wilt to back down because they couldn’t hear what Tomjanovich had said to him.

Grinning, Tomjanovich recalls what he said that evoked some mercy from The Stilt: “Please, Mr. Chamberlain, give me one more chance.”

The story is told in all of its glory in clip two below, which I highly recommend just for his impression of a young Rudy T alone.

From watching Tomjanovich answer questions and reflect on his career, it’s clear that he’s always had a passion for the game and had fun throughout.

Next. Should the Rockets bring back Mike D'Antoni?

The full thread of answers from the Q & A can be found starting here, from the NBA’s official Twitter page.