A ROCKET AT HEART: My Life and My Team by Rudy with Robert Falkoff Tomjanovich

A ROCKET AT HEART: My Life and My Team

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This quiet, almost bland memoir of the Houston Rockets coach plays low-key counterpoint to the more raucous basketball bios of recent vintage. Tomjanovich has been with the Rockets his entire career: He was the second pick in the 1970 draft. Following a disappointing rookie season, which saw the team's relocation from San Diego to Houston, the 6 '8"" Tomjanovich became the starting small forward. Always a good offensive player, he scored 28 points in his first starting role, relying on a mid-range bankshot that ""became a trademark"" of his game. When he retired after the 1980-81 season, he had a respectable 17.4 career average, shooting .501 from the field. He spent six seasons as a Rockets scout before becoming an assistant coach under Don Chancy in 1988, and replaced Chancy in February 1992. The team was wildly unpredictable: They lost seven games in a row, then won eight straight. A 15-game winning streak led the Rockets to the playoffs for the first time in years. Tomjanovich has led the team to consecutive NBA titles, the first in 1994 when they won an emotional seventh game against a physical New York Knicks team. The 1994-95 season, marked by controversy (which he affably plays down), injuries, and the defection of the unhappy Vernon Maxwell, saw the team win a mere 47 games. It was enough to get them into the playoffs, though, culminating in a shocking four-game sweep of Shaquille O'Neal and the Orlando Magic. A few of the coach's asides bear some interest: his argument for Hakeem Olajuwon as the best center in history; a passage on how he learned ""to deal with the egos of the players"" by listening. But this is less an autobiography than a mildly entertaining, season-by-season commentary on his career.

Pub Date: April 16th, 1997
ISBN: 1416552065
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster