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[chron history]Rudy T's battle with cancer

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by tinman, May 27, 2008.

  1. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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    [​IMG]
    Paper: Houston Chronicle
    Date: SAT 05/24/2003
    Section: A
    Page: 1
    Edition: 3 STAR

    END OF AN ERA / Rudy T steps down / Will focus on health, stay with Rockets

    By JONATHAN FEIGEN
    Staff

    Rudy Tomjanovich bit down on his lower lip and tried to swallow his emotions and bury them in his stomach before they overtook him. But it was too late. The tears he had been fighting began to fill his eyes. The words he tried to force through got stuck in his throat.

    Tomjanovich, an icon of Houston sports beyond even his career as the city's most successful professional coach, announced Friday he would step down as the Rockets' head coach. The decision was his, he said. But that did not make it any easier.

    So he spoke of his assistants and cried. He spoke of his players and choked emotionally on the words.

    Tomjanovich and Rockets owner Leslie Alexander agreed Friday to a contract settlement in which Tomjanovich will remain as a consultant. But with that, after 12 seasons and two championships, he ended his Rockets coaching career.

    "Just to be one of the people in this city - being a soldier instead of a general for a while - I look forward to that," said Tomjanovich, a member of the Rockets organization for 33 years.

    Tomjanovich, 54, was diagnosed with bladder cancer March 18 and has undergone six outpatient treatments. He is scheduled for a biopsy next month to determine if the treatments have removed the cancer. But he said doctors have told him the stress of coaching could have worsened the disease.

    "It really is something I've been thinking about. It is not an easy decision to make. It's very emotional, but I do feel it's best for me. I think I need to try living a life with less stress in it, and being a head coach in any sport is a very stressful job. It's been over a decade with one team, and it's been great.

    "I have nothing but great memories, but the responsibility of having everybody counting on you for their happiness in that sport is a big responsibility. I love that job, and I had it for a long time. I just think at this stage, with the health situation, that the best thing is to back off and try to be just a regular guy for a while.

    "Somebody mentioned that in the Army, they rotate guys around on the point because they can only stand up there so long."

    Tomjanovich has been with the Rockets since he was selected with the second pick of the 1970 NBA draft by the San Diego Rockets. He has been a part of the team as a player, scout, broadcaster, assistant coach or head coach for every game it has ever played since moving from San Diego to Houston for the start of the 1971-72 season. He was the first of five Rockets to have his number (45) retired.

    Tomjanovich, who has maintained his love of scouting, will primarily work with the Rockets' scouts, general manager Carroll Dawson and player personnel director Dennis Lindsey.

    Tomjanovich would not rule out returning to coaching. Although there were no other changes made in Rockets management, the assistant coaches' contracts run through another year and could be terminated by an incoming coach.

    Tomjanovich has a 503-397 record in 12 seasons since he was named interim head coach in 1992 and then given the job for good two months later. But the Rockets have failed to make the playoffs in each of the past four seasons. Tomjanovich has had only two losing seasons as a coach, and his last two winning seasons were the best and second-best ever for a team that failed to make the playoffs since the field expanded to 16 teams.

    "Nothing has changed on how I feel about this team," Tomjanovich said. "I thought we made great strides. The competitor in me - that urge that drives me could have something to do with the disease that I have and when I wound up in the hospital with exhaustion (in July 1999). That part of me still wants to do that stuff, but I know that right now what is best for me is to take a lesser role to take those burdens off of me.

    "I look forward to going to the new arena and pulling for the team," he said. "Right now, I think I need to get away from the stress of this job. But I really believe I need to get away from that life for a while."

    Alexander said he and Dawson would immediately begin searching for Tomjanovich's successor. Tomjanovich said he would have no role in finding the next coach and has not discussed potential candidates with Alexander.

    Former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy was reportedly close to accepting the head coaching position in Cleveland but has spoken often about the Rockets' potential. He said Wednesday he has not had any contact, direct or through channels, with the Rockets and had considered coaching only in New Orleans and Cleveland. Philadelphia 76ers coach Larry Brown has long been a favorite of Alexander's and has expressed misgivings about returning there for a seventh season.

    Tomjanovich's announcement sent waves of shock through the team, the organization and the sport.

    "I can't believe it. I just can't believe it," Rockets forward Maurice Taylor said. "I didn't see this coming. None of us did. It definitely hits me, hits me hard. He's a great coach, but more than a coach, he's such a great person. He's the right guy to coach this team, too. There won't be one person, not one person, on the team that won't be sad to see him go."

    Said Rockets guard Steve Francis: "I have strong feelings for Rudy and hate to see him go."

    Tomjanovich has been celebrated throughout the NBA.

    "I've coached a lot of guys over a 43-year career, and I've come across some really special people, but never one better," former Rockets head coach Del Harris said. "He's the original Rocket Man. I'm not sure people ever have understood just what Rudy has meant for that team and that city.

    "I put him in the category with coach (Don) Nelson, Pat Riley, Larry Brown, Red Auerbach (and) Phil Jackson."

    Tomjanovich's 12 years represented the third-longest active coaching tenure with one team in professional sports in the United States, trailing only Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and Atlanta Braves coach Bobby Cox.
    Tomjanovich said his decision to step down reminded him of when he chose to end his playing career as a Rocket rather than to play for any other team.

    "If you look back, this man has spent his whole life in basketball," Dawson said. "He was an All-American in college (at the University of Michigan). He was an All-Star in the NBA. He became the best scout I've ever seen. Then he became a great assistant coach. Then he became a great head coach who won two championships for us and won an Olympic gold medal. I think we're very blessed to have as capable a guy in this game as I have ever known. I'm sure that one day he'll be in the Hall of Fame."

    Tomjanovich had said he planned to return to the bench as soon as his health allowed. He said after the season that unlike many championship coaches, he had chosen to see the Rockets through the rebuilding rather than use his success to jump to a more veteran team and would like to see the transition through. Even late last week, he said he was excited to return to the bench.

    "I can't put a finger on it," Tomjanovich said of his change of heart. "But when you get down to it in those quiet moments, you ask yourself, `What are you going to do now? Am I going to keep grinding it? Is that the right thing to do?' That competitor side of me said, `Yeah, you're doggone right. Let's go. Let's go.' But I don't know if that's the right thing right now. And then it takes a lot of soul searching to be all right with yourself, to accept that. To say, `Hey, I don't have to be that guy. I can be the guy that says that's enough.'

    "When I take a step back and look at it, it's really been a fairy tale with all the things. I've had all kinds of experiences. I've had times when we were down in holes, so to speak, and no one believed in us except the 12 guys and the coaching staff, and we pulled it out.

    "There are so many positive things that happened that will never be seen. My life has been so full of those types of things. When I broke up talking about the coaches - those guys are like brothers to me. They're family. Same thing with players. My career has been full. I've really got more than my share of wonderful things through this game."

    With that, Tomjanovich gave up a job he cherished. He already missed his players and assistants. But he left, he said, with no regrets.

    "This is not a bad day," Tomjanovich said. "This is something I have to do. There is nothing to feel sorry about. I feel very blessed."

    ...

    RUDY T HIGHLIGHTS

    1 Olympic gold medals as coach of the U.S. team.

    2 NBA championships.

    12 Years as Rockets coach.

    33 Years with Rockets organization.

    503 Victories as Rockets coach.
     
    #1 tinman, May 27, 2008
    Last edited: May 27, 2008
  2. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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    Paper: Houston Chronicle
    Date: SAT 05/24/2003
    Section: Sports
    Page: 4
    Edition: 3 STAR

    RUDY T: END OF AN ERA / Rudy fit Rockets to a 'T' / FOR 33 YEARS, FROM PLAYER TO SCOUT TO ASSISTANT COACH TO HEAD COACH, RUDY TOMJANOVICH HAS BEEN THE FACE OF A FRANCHISE

    Staff

    1970s

    1970 - The San Diego Rockets select Tomjanovich, an All-American at the University of Michigan, as the second pick overall in the first round of the NBA draft.

    1970-71 - Tomjanovich averages 5.3 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in his rookie season with the Rockets, playing in their final year in San Diego before the franchise moves to Houston.

    1974-75 - Tomjanovich leads the Rockets in scoring for the third straight season, averaging 20.7 points and 7.6 rebounds per game as the franchise has its first non-losing record since the move to Houston at 41-41.

    1976-77 - The Rockets win their first Central Division championship as Tomjanovich leads the team in scoring with 21.6 points a game and averages 8.4 rebounds.

    Dec. 7, 1977 - Tomjanovich is punched in the face by Kermit Washington of the Lakers. The force of the punch shatters Tomjanovich's face and causes spinal fluid to leak from his brain capsule.

    1978-79 - After missing the bulk of the 1977-78 season, Tomjanovich returns to action, plays in 74 games and makes the NBA All-Star team a fifth time.

    1980s

    Oct. 2, 1981 - Tomjanovich retires after averaging 11.6 points per game in his final season as the Rockets advance to the NBA Finals for the first time against Boston.

    Jan. 28, 1982 - The Rockets retire Tomjanovich's jersey number 45.

    1983 - After two years as a scout, Tomjanovich returns to the Rockets' bench as an assistant coach.

    1990s

    Feb. 18, 1992 - The Rockets fire coach Don Chaney and name Tomjanovich as his interim successor.

    May 20, 1992 - After the Rockets finish 16-14 under Tomjanovich, he is officially named head coach.

    1992-93 - The Rockets win the Midwest Division title and Tomjanovich is named NBA Coach of the Year as his team advances to the Western Conference semifinals before losing to Seattle in seven games.

    Nov.-Dec. 1993 - The Rockets reel off 15 consecutive victories to open the season, the longest season-opening winning streak in league history.

    May 1994 - After losing the first two games at home to Phoenix in the Western Conference semifinals, the Rockets become only the second team in NBA history to come back and win a seven-game series.

    June 22, 1994 - The Rockets defeat the New York Knicks 90-84 in Game 7 of the NBA Finals to claim their first league championship.

    Feb. 14, 1995 - After struggling through the first half of the regular season, the Rockets pull off a dramatic trade with Portland to bring hometown star Clyde Drexler back to Houston to finish his career.

    June 14, 1995 - The Rockets defeat the Orlando Magic in four straight games to win their second straight NBA championship. During the celebration, Tomjanovich uses the phrase that will come to define his career: "Never underestimate the heart of a champion."

    1998 - Tomjanovich is named coach of the USA Basketball senior national team and leads a group of non-NBA players to a bronze medal at the world championships.

    2000s

    September 2000 - Tomjanovich leads another U.S. national team, this one composed mostly of NBA players, to the Olympic gold medal in Sydney, Australia.

    April 17, 2001 - Longtime Houston icon Hakeem Olajuwon, the former University of Houston star who helped lead the Rockets to their only two NBA championships, plays his final game for the Rockets and Tomjanovich.

    Aug. 2, 2001 - Tomjanovich says farewell to his dream center as the Rockets trade Olajuwon to the Toronto Raptors, ending a 17-year relationship with the Rockets.

    June 2002 - After winning the NBA lottery a month earlier, the Rockets use the first pick in the NBA draft to select 7-5 Chinese center Yao Ming.

    August 2002 - Twenty-five years after "The Punch," Tomjanovich and Washington greet each other and shake hands during a meeting in Oakland. "If he can forgive, anybody can forgive," Washington says.

    March 17, 2003 - Tomjanovich is diagnosed with "superficial" bladder cancer.

    March 26, 2003 - Tomjanovich announces he will take an indefinite leave of absence as he undergoes cancer treatment. He does not return to the bench as the Rockets miss the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.

    May 23, 2003 - Tomjanovich resigns as head coach as part of a contract buyout agreement with Rockets owner Leslie Alexander.
     
  3. Anticope

    Anticope Member

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    Rudy T could whoop Kermit Washington anyday!
     
  4. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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    At least the crowd in 2004, they know whom to cheer.
    regardless if he was the coach of the Lakers.

    Paper: HOUSTON CHRONICLE
    Date: SUN 11/14/2004
    Section: Sports
    Page: 1
    Edition: 4 STAR

    This night belonged to Rudy T

    By JOHN P. LOPEZ
    Staff

    RUDY Tomjanovich should have known.

    Home isn't the house. It's the people who live there.

    When Tomjanovich talked of returning to Houston after 33 years as a Rocket, he figured that since he never coached a game at Toyota Center - never even walked into the place on a game night - Saturday might be easy.

    He didn't figure Rudy Tomjanovich Night would be quite as emotional as it was. For about five minutes anyway, it was Choked-up City.

    Caught up in the moment

    It was the people - the faces and fans - who had Tomjanovich fighting himself over getting too caught up in the pre-game event and forgetting what mattered most.

    "We really need this game," Tomjanovich, now the Los Angeles Lakers' coach, said before tipoff.

    There was the presentation of a painting showing Rudy T in that familiar "Touchdown Rockets" sideline pose of his. When Tomjanovich saw the painting and heard the warm cheers, he shook his head, as if disbelieving this was all happening to him.

    Clearly, it all touched him. The familiar smiles and words of encouragement. The same statistics crew sitting along the sideline. The same faces along press row. The same photographers under the baskets. The friends sitting roughly where they always did at Compaq Center.

    "You have to understand ... it took us about a week to find out that these are some of the most loving people in the world down here in Texas," Tomjanovich said before the ceremony. "And I'm an emotional guy."

    The tribute brought out all those emotions on his face. As Rockets general manager Carroll Dawson spoke and fans chanted his name, Tomjanovich waved and tried to keep it all together.

    "In our hearts," Dawson told Tomjanovich, "you'll always be a Houston Rocket."

    Just like old times

    Later, Tomjanovich would say the most difficult part of standing at midcourt of a Rockets floor, like he did when he spoke of the heart of a champion on the heels of a second NBA title in 1995, was that "I feel that way every time I'm in Houston. It's emotional. I just think, `What kind of (fortunate) life is this?' "

    But then the ball was thrown up. And it was easy to realize how this unique relationship between a tough kid from Hamtramck, Mich., and Houston became so lasting and special.

    First, Tomjanovich opened his heart to Rockets fans. Then he tried to rip out the heart of the Rockets team he faced Saturday night.

    It was the same Rudy we always knew. There was nothing different from the Tomjanovich who became a hero and icon in Houston except that now he was wearing the purple heart of a champion.

    Once this back-and-forth, emotional 84-79 Lakers win began, Tomjanovich acted as if he wanted to take that painting and slam it over Dawson's head. He screamed through every possession.

    That's what made Rudy T Rudy T. And it made for the contrasting images on display Saturday night: Tomjanovich getting practically teary-eyed before the game and raging just moments later like the world was out to get him.

    Had someone walked into the arena unaware of Tomjanovich's Houston appeal as a Rockets lifer, it would have been impossible to figure out why 18,181 fans were so in love with the lunatic contorting himself in front of the Lakers' bench.


    The man gives the game everything and then gives some more. He protects his players at all costs, says all the right things in public, then bares his soul and dies a thousand emotional deaths night in and night out along the sideline.

    Houston loved it.

    One moment, Tomjanovich was telling the crowd: "In my darkest hour, I felt your love ... I know in my heart that you helped me beat cancer."


    Seconds later, he was roaring in full game mode, throwing his hands up, whistling, clapping. He watched plays develop, hands on hips, and barked instructions and play calls.

    "Four-C down! Four-C down!"

    The jacket flew open as he disputed calls. He hustled back and forth out of the coaching box, running toward midcourt and shouting "Geez!" at officials.

    He ran his hand through his hair, anguishing, his mouth dropping wide open when the whistle blew in favor of the Rockets, as if the entire city was in on this conspiracy.

    The irony was that as much as it was Rudy T's night - and no one seemed too bummed over the Rockets' loss - Jeff Van Gundy probably needed this win more.

    Van Gundy continues to fret over the same things that drove Tomjanovich nuts, especially the lack of consistent effort that has doomed this Rockets team to a less-than-mediocre start.

    "I know there are some in the locker room who think I'm overly demanding," Van Gundy said. "I don't care. I know how you win and how you lose in this league, and I'm not going to change my standards."

    There was someone on the other bench who knew exactly what he was talking about.

    For more than three decades, Tomjanovich defined what basketball was all about in this town. He unlocked the secret and found the right mixes of personalities and talents.

    Van Gundy continues to search. But this just wasn't Van Gundy's night. Beginning to end, it belonged to Rudy T.
     
  5. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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  6. aussie rocket

    aussie rocket Member

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    I love and severely miss the icon Rudy T.

    bit like Dream in Toronto, I am fully willing to erase the Rudy tour of duty with the Fakers.

    there is NO ONE more real.
     
  7. saleem

    saleem Contributing Member

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    Thank God Rudy T made it through cancer and is alive and healthy today.
     
  8. aussie rocket

    aussie rocket Member

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    who the fk is voting for scola4president. :confused:
     
  9. kwng

    kwng Member

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    Rudy T is a very good coach and all his players like him.
     
  10. abita

    abita Member

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    must be the r****ded virus is spreading around :D
     
  11. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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    Great snips of Rudy T, the coach
    of our TWO WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
    <object width="425" height="355"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/YZUlzVoBqhM&hl=en"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/YZUlzVoBqhM&hl=en" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="355"></embed></object>

    " I have one thing to say to those non-believers"

    -This translates to I have one thing to say to those fake Rocket fans
     
  12. abita

    abita Member

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    fixed. world is much bigger than north america
     
  13. kaleidosky

    kaleidosky Your Tweety Bird dance just cost us a run

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    tinman, this is one of your best threads
     
  14. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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    thanks!

    an important inspirational story for a Rocket that we love.

    If we saw Rudy T at a coffee shop, any of us Rockets fans would gladly pay for his frappuchino and bran muffin, well maybe except for one dude.
     
  15. The_Yoyo

    The_Yoyo Contributing Member

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    haha

    yeah i met rudy T once out here in LA during his brief coaching tenure. Class guy I wish him all the best and the rockets really need to re-sign this guy somewhere in the front office as soon as his contract is done with the lakers. there is no way we let rudy not end his employement with the lakers.

    the funny thing was that my friends were talking about the lakers and rudy was just answering the best he could with "PC" answers with his stoic look and then rudy smiled huge when i told him a was a huge rockets fan, the rockets are in his blood
     
  16. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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    Yoyo you are a true Rockets fan, when you reach that afterlife, Dream and Rudy will great you!

    those other dudes will be met by Karl Malone and Gary Payton!
     

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