Rudolph “Rudy” Tomjanovich, Jr. (born November 24, 1948) is an American retired basketball player and coach who coached the Houston Rockets to two consecutive NBA championships. He was an All-Star forward for the Rockets during his playing career. He is currently a scout for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Tomjanovich was selected in the 1970 NBA Draft as the second overall pick by the San Diego Rockets (the franchise relocated to Houston in 1971), for whom he would play the entirety of his NBA career. He was also drafted in both 1970 and 1974 by the Utah Stars of the ABA. In his eleven years in the NBA, Tomjanovich had a scoring average of 17.4 points and a rebounding average of 8.1, earning five All-Star Game selections in the process (1974–1977, 1979). He is the third-leading scorer in Rockets history behind Hall of Famers Calvin Murphy and Hakeem Olajuwon. Because his last name was so long, the back of Tomjanovich’s jerseys would read “RUDY T.”, rather than his 11 character name.
In his first full season on the job (1992-93), Tomjanovich guided the Rockets to the Midwest Division title, making him the first head coach to ever take his team from the lottery to a division crown during his first full season. Building on this success, Rudy T. led the team to back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and 1995. On the playoff run to their second title, the Rockets became the lowest seed (sixth) to win one, and the only team in history to defeat the teams with the four best regular season records in the playoffs. It was on the floor of The Summit after they captured their second title that Rudy proclaimed, “Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion!” In his 11-plus season tenure as Rockets head coach, he posted a 503–397 (.559) regular-season record and a 51–39 (.567) playoff mark. His career wins and winning percentage are Rockets franchise records. Tomjanovich left the team after the 2002-03 season when he was diagnosed with bladder cancer, ending a 33-year association with the Rockets franchise—including its first 32 years in Houston—as a player, assistant coach and head coach.
The Rockets retired Tomjanovich’s #45 jersey upon the conclusion of his playing career. His collegiate jersey, also #45, was retired by the University of Michigan in 2003.
Career highlights and awards
5× NBA All-Star (1974–1977, 1979)
No. 45 retired by the Houston Rockets
Second-team All-American – AP, UPI (1970)
Third-team All-American – NABC (1970)
2× First-team All-Big Ten (1969, 1970)
As coach: 2× NBA champion (1994, 1995)
NBA All-Star Game head coach (1997)