NBA: Rudy Tomjanovich wins lifetime achievement award

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Rudy Tomjanovich is the winner of the 2024 Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by the National Basketball Coaches Association.

The organization announced the selection on Sunday of Tomjanovich, one of just nine coaches in NBA history to win consecutive league titles and a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

“Chuck Daly and Rudy Tomjanovich have many of the same amazing accomplishments and traits – both won back to back NBA titles, both coached the United States to Olympic gold and both are absolutely beloved in the coaching community because of their great way with people,” said Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle, who is president of the NBCA.

Tomjanovich, 75, was an NBA head coach in parts of 13 seasons and compiled a 527-416 record with the Houston Rockets (1992-2003) and Los Angeles Lakers (2004-05).

His 1994 and 1995 teams, led by Hakeem Olajuwon, won NBA championships, bridging the gap between the pair of three-peats won by the Chicago Bulls in the ‘90s.

Tomjanovich led his teams to the playoffs seven times and to three conference finals.

He said he was stunned to get the call about the award.

“I have to admit, I was taken by surprise because I did not know I was in the running for it,” he said. “I was with my son Trey when I got the call from Rick Carlisle telling me about receiving this great award. Trey saw the expression on my face and the emotion in my eyes. As Rick told me about some of the past winners of this award, all coaches that I admired and respected, then explained what principles the award stood for — a coach’s standard of integrity, competitive excellence, and tireless promotion of the game of basketball — I got choked up and humbled. I did not know what to say.

“Rick continued and said, ‘This is one of the greatest honors a coach can receive, voted by your peers. You’ve touched a lot of people. You have been innovative and changed the game in a positive way. You deserve this award.’ It took everything I had not to burst out crying in front of my son, not that I wouldn’t, I didn’t want to scare him because he didn’t know what the call was about. He kept asking what’s wrong. I explained when I hung up.”

As a player, Tomjanovich was the No. 2 overall pick by the then-San Diego Rockets in the 1970 NBA Draft. He spent 11 seasons with the franchise, named to five All-Star teams.

–Field Level Media

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