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(Cronk) Rudy T's Worlds

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by xiki, Aug 30, 2006.

  1. xiki

    xiki Contributing Member

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    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/sports/bk/bkn/4150742.html

    I miss the guy. He was Mr RockeT!

    Aug. 30, 2006, 12:40AM
    A look back at Rudy T's trip to the Worlds
    '98 team lacked pedigree of '06 but won anyway


    By FRAN BLINEBURY
    Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

    TOKYO - These days, Team USA crisscrosses Asia as part basketball team and part rock-'n'-roll band, bathing in adulation every time it enters an arena.

    Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James are the kinds of faces that would be chiseled into a Mount Rushmore of today's NBA stars.

    Back then, the players who wore "USA" across their chests did a whirlwind tour of Europe as if they were a group of vacationers with cameras dangling from around their necks.

    Wendell Alexis, David Wood and Kiwane Garris are the kinds of faces whose photos might be hanging only in their parents' living room.

    In 2006, no expense has been spared, nothing has been left to chance as USA Basketball has recommitted itself under managing director Jerry Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski to reclaiming a position of prominence at the World Basketball Championship in Japan.

    Americans such as Shane Battier, Chris Paul and Elton Brand have their own chefs, people to carry their luggage, even someone to wipe their chins if necessary.

    In 1998, it was a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants operation led by Rudy Tomjanovich that just hoped to show up at the right gym at the right time and then scrap for a measure of respect at the World Championship in Athens, Greece.

    Americans such as Michael Hawkins, Jimmy Olivery and Jason Sasser toted their own luggage and would have laundered their own uniforms just for the opportunity to be on the court.

    "Different worlds? Yeah, you better believe it," said Brad Miller, who was a 22-year-old center fresh out of Purdue in 1998 and is now 30, an eight-year NBA veteran and the only player to be on both teams. "You know what it's like to watch those old reruns of the Beverly Hillbillies walking around their mansion? That was us."

    It was a team that was thrown together out of necessity when a labor dispute between NBA players and owners turned into a lockout and all of the big-name stars who were supposed to go to Greece backed out of their commitments.

    "I loved it," said Tomjanovich, who was supposed to be drawing up plays for Scottie Pippen and instead had Trajan Langdon. "If you love basketball and it's in your blood, that's as good as it gets. It was the game at its purest level. Get your players and build a team."

    Rudy T had less than a month to choose a roster from a collection of names that included a few former NBA journeymen, some Continental Basketball Association veterans, some Americans who had played in Europe and a handful of collegians.

    "We had 30-plus guys that we had to look at and get to know," Tomjanovich said. "For two or three days, we did four sessions a day and tried to pick guys who'd work together."


    'Dreamers' get their day
    From that came the 12-man roster of wannabes who would try to take on the world. In place of another NBA Dream Team, they became known in some circles as the "Dreamers." In other circles, they were called much worse. It was said they didn't stand a chance.

    But Rudy T was willing to stand by them and take his chances, even if it meant a dent to a résumé that included two NBA titles with the Rockets.

    "I can't say enough about Rudy and what he meant to the team and to our program at that time," said Jim Tooley, USA Basketball executive director. "As soon as word hit about the lockout of the NBA players, I picked up the phone and called Rudy and said, 'This isn't what you signed up to do, and we understand if you want to step back from this.' Rudy didn't hesitate. He said he was in without a doubt, and from that minute on, he made us proud."

    The roster Tomjanovich took to Athens was more representative of blue-collar Middle America than a band of high-paid NBA dunkers.

    "I still thought that we could do well," Tomjanovich said. "Honestly, I didn't realize how good those international teams were. But we had some chemistry as a team. We had Brad Miller. We had some guys who had played in Europe after college. Our MVP was probably Wendell Alexis, who was a tremendous shooting big forward, like a (Matt) Bullard. That's the style I like to play — open the floor up. Every time somebody threw a zone at us, he and Brad Miller picked it apart."


    No deep pockets
    The players came together around Tomjanovich because he rallied behind them. He never treated them as scrubs or overachievers. He didn't coach them to make a good showing. He told them they would win.

    "It was one of the most fun times I've ever had playing basketball," said Miller, "and that was mostly because of Rudy. Some of us were kids; some of us were just guys kicking around the game. But he treated us in a first-class way. He treated us like men."

    A lot of them were men with families at home and no cushy contracts.

    "What was funny was we trained in Monaco, because the whole itinerary was set up for the NBA players," Tomjanovich said. "There's the Grand Casino and all the wealth, and here's these poor guys who have no money. They're standing in the lobby eating McDonald's."

    And they played hungrily. The U.S. team went 5-1 in the first round, losing only a two-point game to Lithuania. The Americans beat Italy in the quarterfinals, then played Russia to advance to the gold-medal game. After Serguei Panov drove coast-to-coast to give Russia a 66-64 lead with four seconds left, another Russian grabbed the ball and set it down away from the Americans while the clock kept ticking.

    "You're not allowed to do that," Tomjanovich said. "It's a rule. It was unfair. But those things happen in these events."

    Still, the U.S. got the ball in for a desperate heave by Alexis. It went in, but clearly after the horn had sounded.


    Showing their mettle
    "Here's the thing I was really proud of," Tomjanovich said. "We were down because of that, and there was some fear that we weren't going to get a medal, and those guys already had been beaten down because of all the publicity that they were no-names, that they couldn't compete.

    "So we played Greece, and it was the Greeks' first opportunity ever to get a medal at one of these major competitions in basketball. On their home court. And at about 3 in the morning, looking at the tape, we spotted something in their offense in a key player, where if we could deny him the ball, we thought we could disrupt them a little bit. ... We wound up having a double-digit win and won a bronze medal.

    "I actually told those guys, 'This has been one of the greatest moments in my basketball career.' ... I mean, it was just what I love about the whole sport. We created a team."

    Two years later, Tomjanovich coached Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, Gary Payton and other NBA stars at the Sydney Olympics, the last gold medal won by the U.S. in a major competition.

    "That was a great experience in Australia," Rudy T said. "But Athens will always be special."

    Because there are Dream Teams and there are dreamers.

    fran.blinebury@chron.com
     
  2. Champ06

    Champ06 Member

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    I like Rudy T too. He was a Rockets coach. So, do you think GARM is right forum for a Rudy T's article?
     
  3. AroundTheWorld

    Supporting Member

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    Yes. Read the forum description.
     
  4. xiki

    xiki Contributing Member

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    Is there a question where Rudy should be posTed?
     
  5. Old Man Rock

    Old Man Rock Contributing Member

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    r****d!
     
  6. Champ06

    Champ06 Member

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    What so r****d about asking a question? I did not say it with affirmative that it was wrong. I admit my mistake. You mean you don't mistake. Being called a r****d for making a mistake, then you can be a r****d too unless you are a absolute saint and never make a single mistake. Old Man. Lol
     
  7. Rocket River

    Rocket River Member

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    that is only selectively applied
    It is not as accurate as it once was

    Rocket River
    :(
     
  8. JuanValdez

    JuanValdez Contributing Member

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    Anyway, Rudy T is a badass.
     
  9. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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    Rudy T led the Rockets and the city of Houston to its first real championship in 94.

    His starting lineup was:
    Kenny Smith
    Vernon Maxwell
    Robert Horry
    Otis Thorpe
    Hakeem The Dream

    His bench:
    Sam Cassell
    Mario Elie
    Carl Herrera
    Matt Bullard

    I just wanted to inform people on this board who don't know this. cause I know you exist and I know that Clutch is a kind person and would let you on this board.

    If it were me, anyone who did not have this information cemented in their heads would be banned.
     
  10. JayZ750

    JayZ750 Contributing Member

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    Not to take anything away from Rudy, but one thing you notice more and more and more is that the international game is almost more tailored for college style play than NBA style play these days. That's not to say you can't or shouldn't just be able to put together a roster of your best NBA players and win anyway, but I just think there is a reason why Coach K put together the roster he did, why Carmelo is potentially the MVP of the team, etc.
     
  11. smoothie

    smoothie Contributing Member
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    well that explains why coach K was picked for the team and he picked players that were great college players (mostly).
     
  12. TheFreak

    TheFreak Contributing Member

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    When Rudy stopped coaching the Lakers, they said he would stay on for two years as a consultant. Aren't the two years up? If so why isn't he working for the Rockets now? Even JVG said he should be brought back. Anyone know the details of his contractual obligations with the Lakers?
     
  13. Pocket Rockets

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    dont forget Chris Jent & Zan Tabak...key roles :D
     
  14. JuanValdez

    JuanValdez Contributing Member

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    Why would that take away from Rudy?

    Freak, that's a good question.
     
  15. xiki

    xiki Contributing Member

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    GreaT!
     
  16. tinman

    tinman Contributing Member
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    if Rudy T ran for governor, I would for vote for him.
    Rudy would then give a governor's pardon to Vernon Maxwell and Ralph Sampson.

    THe world would be a greater place!
     

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