Rudy Tomjanovich wins Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award

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Monday, June 10, 2024

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 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," Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle, who is president of the NBCA, said in a statement.

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 with his son in Houston when he got the call.

"I got emotional,"Tomjanovich said in Boston on Sunday, when the award was presented before Game 2 of the NBA Finals. "My son kept asking, 'Are you OK? Are you OK?'"

Tomjanovich assured his son after hanging up with Carlisle that all was fine.

"And then I did cry," Tomjanovich said.

"And the reason is, when something like this happens, I'm not thinking about the championships. I'm not thinking about all the good stuff. I'm thinking about the dark days -- the days when I doubted myself," he continued. "Much like the coach here inBoston[Joe Mazzulla], I got a job out of the blue. Didn't know what was going to happen."

Tomjanovich also stumped for two of his former players in Houston while addressing reporters.

"I'm looking forward to the day that Sam Cassell is a head coach, and I want to see him cussing at players the way I cussed at him," Tomjanovich said of Cassell, a current Celtics assistant, who found some time during his pregame duties to stand in the back of the news conference to pay his respects to his former coach.

"I made a lot of good moves. I made some crazy moves. I traded Robert Horry twice," Tomjanovich continued. "But I really believe he belongs in the Naismith Hall of Fame. He's proven it time and time again. He's made so many teams champions playing a role, and that's so important. It isn't about just the stats. It's about getting results. I pray that one day he's going to be able to stand up there and accept that honor."

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 and was named to five All-Star teams.

ESPN's Dave McMenamin, The Associated Press and Field Level Media contributed to this report.