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Rudy T Reflects on Rockets
1560 talks to Houston legend Rudy Tomjanovich about past, present Rockets
By Clutch
Copyright 2010
Rudy T Reflects on Rockets
Sports radio station 1560 the Game had former Rockets player and coach Rudy Tomjanovich in studio Thursday morning, and the Houston legend opened up about a number of Rockets topics, past and present.

Rudy T was there to promote The Ultimate Lock, a lock business that both he and former Rocket Robert Horry are spokesmen for.

"Oh heck yeah," said Rudy T on if he's still good friends with Horry. "I don't know why. I traded the guy twice."

The former Rockets coach, who led the Rockets to back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and 1995, was feeling so comfortable telling the stories on the air that he even let an expletive fly, forgetting he was on the radio.

Here are some of the key highlights:

On switching Horry to power forward in the 1995 NBA playoffs

It was really a stroke of luck and it changed basketball a little bit because more people started going with the spacing four, the guy who could pop those three-pointers. It opened up the floor for us.

We had him in the one series against Charles Barkley and he did a great job on Barkley with his length. We did not want to double-team Barkley because he's such a great passer. Robert's length on him bothered him and we stayed with Danny Ainge and Dan Majerle and all those three-point shooters. Robert did a phenomenal job one-on-one on Barkley.

On David Robinson's MVP trophy presentation during 1995 WCF

I was standing right next to Hakeem Olajuwon. I sort of saw the presentation through Hakeem. I saw his profile and all that. I was just saying, 'I wonder what he's thinking.' Then we found out.

On juggling Sam Cassell and Kenny Smith at the PG position

It was almost a baseball philosophy. I had a closer and Cassell was the closer. They were two good players. Keeping guys happy – that's the number one thing you got to do as a coach. You're not going to keep them completely happy but keep them where they feel comfortable. And there were a lot of things on that team that weren't comfortable. I did a lot of starting Otis Thorpe and then playing Carl Herrera a lot in the fourth quarter also. I would hear about those things all the time.

When you are loaded with talent, and you're deep, your good players want to be on the floor when it's crunch time. We have turned down some trades where we could bring in some other guys where, knowing the players, that they couldn't deal with not being in the game. To get it done, you got to make some sacrifices.

On trading Otis Thorpe

There was only one star in the league that you could make a midseason trade and he could get along with our superstar. It was just one of those magic things, and Clyde was that star. Any other superstar would have fought for his territory, but Clyde came in and accepted it. That was a crazy year because we never were healthy the rest of the year. In fact we finally got healthy in the playoffs so all that adjusting stuff I didn't have to go through because we were always short people.

On sending Vernon Maxwell home in the 1995 NBA playoffs

He said he was hurt. He didn't like -- we had a meeting about the playing time. I told him he would play but I couldn't guarantee him more minutes and all of a sudden, a cramp developed in his hamstring [laughs]. He said he was hurt. So we said, "You probably should get some medical attention back in Houston" [and] we sent him home. I love Max. We had a great relationship. I loved his fire.

On the Rockets vs. Bulls debate

I finally got a chance to talk to Michael Jordan years [later] over at Barkley's house and he thought that the best matchup they would have had during that era was against us because of the way Max used to play him and how our big guys used to dominate their inside.

On working for the Lakers

It's not the same. I do work for them. They've been very good to me. I'm not with them on a daily, every day basis. I send in my reports and proud of them, but it's not like growing up, playing for a franchise, being an assistant coach then head coach, being a Houstonian and being hungry for that thing. You know, we loved Bum Phillips and Bum got close, knocked down the door... to be a part of that, it was like a fairy tale.

On the Current Rockets

I tell you what, I know my coaching days are over and I don't need to go out there, but after I've been at a Rocket game, I have to lay down and take a couple aspirin because I want to coach again. I've got about 5 favorite players on that team. They play hard. They play with intensity. They just kick people's butts.

On the belief that the current Rockets "don't have any stars"

They do have some stars. Because these guys are new players -- Aaron Brooks is a star. He's a star. The things that he's doing out there, he should be considered for an All-Star. And Carl Landry is an animal. My son Trey and I have created a database. All the stats, everything that happens in a game, we have all these searches where I can break down where people score from, when they score, what kind of game climate it is and all that stuff. Landry is right up there with the superstars. In fact, he's probably scoring at a higher percentage than some of the guys who are going to be in the All-Star game. I saw him against Andrew Bynum the other night – you know, Bynum is one of the longest players in the league – and they're throwing the ball inside to Landry and he's right in rhythm. It doesn't even faze him. He also should be considered as an All-Star. He's a special player. A lot of people don't know him. They make the playoffs, they upset somebody... he's going to be a guy that – the NBA knows about him now.

On the Barkley Trade

I would make that trade again. Talent-wise and chemistry-wise, that was one of the best teams we had. Seattle used to own us and he just killed them. The next year, we had Utah beat and he gets a freak accident where they rip his bicep.

On Signing Shandon Anderson

He panned out a lot better for us than he did for other people. That guy had like five or six 30+ games. When you go back and look at your system, do you put your players in an environment where they can get the best out of themselves? Shandon, we didn't get him for offense. We got him for defense and dirty work and all that stuff. This guy, he flourished in our offense, but he wasn't happy. A lot of our stuff is spacing and I'm one of those coaches where if something's working, we're going to go back to it. So if we're running a high pick-and-roll and you're the guy in the corner, you might go 8 minutes standing in the corner. You're going to get some opportunities, but a lot of guys don't like that.

Complete audio of interview, courtesy of

Part 1

Part 2

Rudy Tomjanovich commercial for

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