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Hall of Fame coach Rudy Tomjanovich wins 2024 Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award

Tomjanovich coached in the NBA for 22 years, 12 as a head coach where he amassed a 527-416 career record.

Rudy Tomjanovich coached the Rockets and the Lakers during his 22-year coaching career in the NBA. 

BOSTON — Rudy Tomjanovich, a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Coach and one of only nine coaches in NBA history to win back-to-back NBA Championships, is the recipient of the 2024 Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Basketball Coaches Association announced today.

“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 Head Coach and National Basketball Coaches Association President, Rick Carlisle. “Congrats to Rudy T on this prestigious recognition.”

“I am honored to receive the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award,” said Rudy Tomjanovich. “I have to admit, I was taken by surprise because I did not know I was in the running for it. 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.

“Afterward, I did cry. They were tears of gratitude for the many people who helped me on my journey through my coaching career. I want to thank owners Charlie Thomas, Leslie Alexander and Jerry Buss for hiring me to coach their teams. I want to thank coaches Del Harris, Bill Fitch and Don Chaney for the opportunity to be an assistant on their staffs and learning from them. I want to thank all my assistant coaches for their hard work and loyalty. They had my complete trust and I consider them family to this day. I want to thank Carroll Dawson, who was my right-hand man, a great basketball coach and teacher, he gave me everything he had, especially the feeling that my big brother was sitting right next to me on that bench. And I want to thank all the players who I had the privilege to work with. You are what the NBA is all about. Thank you for your hard work and cooperation. You made this award possible for me.

“I want to thank Rick Carlisle, David Fogel and the National Basketball Coaches Association for presenting me with the 2024 Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Rudy Tomjanovich coached in the NBA for 22 years, with the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers. During his 12-year head coaching career, he amassed a 527-416 (.559) career record. He led his teams, known for his instinctive managerial style and intensity on the bench, to the playoffs seven times, to the Conference Finals three times and to back-to-back NBA Championships (one of only nine coaches in history to achieve this feat).

Tomjanovich played collegiately at the University of Michigan, where he was named a two-time All-American, two-time First-Team All-Big Ten and had his number 45 retired by the Wolverines. Drafted 2nd overall by the San Diego [Houston] Rockets in the 1970 NBA Draft, Tomjanovich played 11 seasons in the NBA, where he was named to five NBA All-Star teams. His number 45 was also retired by the Rockets following his player career.

In 1983, Tomjanovich began his coaching career in Houston, first as a scout and later an Assistant Coach under Head Coaches Bill Fitch and Don Chaney. In 1992, Tomjanovich was named the interim and then full-time Head Coach of the Houston Rockets.

During the 1992-1993 Season, Tomjanovich guided the Rockets to a Midwest Division title, making him the only Coach in NBA history to take a team from the lottery to a division title in his first full season. During the 1993-1994 and 1994-1995 campaigns, Coach Tomjanovich led the Rockets to back-to-back NBA Championships, making them the only franchise, outside of the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls, to win multiple championships in the 1990’s.

Tomjanovich ended his 11-year Rockets coaching tenure with a 503–397 (.559) regular-season record and a 51–39 (.567) playoff record – both marks continue to be franchise records today. In 2004, Tomjanovich became the successor to NBA coaching legend Phil Jackson, in Los Angeles. However, due to health implications, Tomjanovich, only coached 43 games with the Lakers before stepping away from the sidelines.

Today, Tomjanovich ranks tied for 5th all-time in NBA Championships (2 wins), tied for 6th all-time in Conference Championship wins (2 wins), 25th on the all-time playoff wins list (51 wins), and 29th all-time in regular-season winning percentage (55.5%).

Additionally, highlighting his success during the 1990’s, Tomjanovich ranks 4th in playoff games coached (90), 4th in playoff wins (51), as well as 5th in playoff win percentage [of Head Coaches with 20 or more playoff games coached (.556)] during one of the most competitive and exciting decades of basketball.

In addition to his tremendous success at the NBA coaching ranks, Coach Tomjanovich also coached the 1988 US Men’s senior basketball team to a bronze medal in the FIBA World Championship in Greece without any NBA players. In 2000, Tomjanovich coached the US Men’s Basketball Summer Olympics Team, featuring the likes of Ray Allen, Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, Jason Kidd, Alonzo Mourning, and Gary Payton, to an undefeated record (8-0) and the gold medal.

Tomjanovich was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a Coach in 2021 (honored as part of the 2020 Class of inductees). He also was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame, the Houston Sports Hall of Fame, as well as the University of Michigan Hall of Fame, becoming the first basketball player in school history to do so.

“Rudy Tomjanovich is widely respected for his ability to connect with, teach and get the most out of his superstar talents,” said David Fogel, National Basketball Coaches Association Executive Director and General Counsel. “His commitment to the game and his 32 year-run with the Rockets franchise is a testament to his work ethic and infectious personality. Congratulations to Rudy on this most deserving recognition.”

The National Basketball Coaches Association’s Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award honors the memory of Hall of Fame Coach Chuck Daly, who, over an outstanding NBA coaching career, set a standard for integrity, competitive excellence, and tireless promotion of NBA basketball. The award is determined annually by a Selection Committee comprised of some of the most respected coaches and basketball executives in the game, including Bernie Bickerstaff, Billy Cunningham, Joe Dumars, Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich, Pat Riley, Donnie Walsh and Lenny Wilkens.

Prior recipients are Rick Adelman (2023), Mike Fratello (2022), Larry Brown (2021), Del Harris (2020), Frank Layden (2019), Doug Moe (2018), Al Attles and Hubie Brown (2017), K.C. Jones and Jerry Sloan (2016), Dick Motta (2015), Bernie Bickerstaff (2014), Bill Fitch (2013), Pat Riley (2012), Lenny Wilkens (2011), Jack Ramsay and Tex Winter (2010), and Tommy Heinsohn (2009).