OFFSEASON COACHING CHANGES, 2004

Rudy Tomjanovich is excited to get to work.
Catherine Steenkeste/NBAE/Getty Images

Irrepressible Rudy to Coach Lakers
In 1995, after his Houston Rockets won their second consecutive NBA title, coach Rudy Tomjanovich said, "We had nonbelievers along the way, and I have one thing to say to those nonbelievers: Don't ever underestimate the heart of a champion."

READY FOR RUDY T
Nearly a decade later, Tomjanovich has won a battle with bladder cancer and his famous statement can be amended to, "Don't ever underestimate the heart of Rudy Tomjanovich."

That's the kind of man the Lakers got when they hired "Rudy T" as head coach July 10. Tomjanovich replaces Phil Jackson, who on June 18 -- three days after Detroit won the title by beating the Lakers in Game 5 of The Finals -- decided not to return for a sixth season as Los Angeles' coach.

"I beat cancer -- I'm so grateful to be here. I am humbled to be here," Tomjanovich said at the news conference to announce his hiring. "I'm going to make a vow that I will bust my butt for you guys. You're going to get my best shot."

Tomjanovich, who had a .559 winning percentage (503-397) in Houston, hopes to have the chance to coach Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, an unrestricted free agent.

"I truly believe he has a chance to become the greatest player ever to play the game," Tomjanovich said.

HAWKS LAND WOODSON
July 8: Atlanta named Mike Woodson, assistant for NBA champion Detroit, as its head coach.
More | Transcript
News conference
Stotts a Warrior

RAPTORS WELCOME MITCHELL
June 29: Toronto hired ex-Bucks assistant and 13-year vet Sam Mitchell to replace Kevin O'Neill.
More | O'Neill out
News conference
Babcock named GM

SCOTT TO GUIDE HORNETS
May 28: New Orleans hired Byron Scott, replacing Tim Floyd.
More | Transcript
News conference
Bristow named as GM
Floyd out | Video

WARRIORS HIRE MONTGOMERY
May 21: Stanford's Mike Montgomery was named Golden State's coach, replacing Eric Musselman.
More | Musselman out
News conference
Higgins named as GM

CELTICS TURN TO DOC
April 29: The Celtics introduced Doc Rivers as their coach April 29, four days after Indiana swept Boston in the playoffs.
More | Notes | Quotes
News conference
Brown, Wohl hired

SIXERS HIRE O'BRIEN
April 21: The Sixers hired former Celtics coach Jim O'Brien to replace Chris Ford, who was promoted on an interim basis after Randy Ayers was fired.
More | Harter hired
News conference