NEVER UNDERESTIMATE RUDY T

Ken Hoffman reveals an untold story of Houston's HOF coach Rudy Tomjanovich

Composite photo by Jack Brame.

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

Rudy Tomjanovich, 5-time NBA All-Star forward, Olympic gold medal coach, and two-time NBA champion coach, has finally — at long last, long overdue, c'mon already, it's about time — been elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.

And now for an untold story. Let's flash back to June 22, 1994, up to then, and many say still, the greatest day in Houston sports history as the Houston Rockets defeated the New York Knicks, 90-84, in Game 7 of the NBA Finals to win the first major title ever for our city.

So how did head coach Rudy T celebrate that night? By making the rounds of ESPN, CNN, the NBA Channel, and big victory parties at swanky downtown hotels or River Oaks mansions? Did he call his agent to line him up with big money national endorsements? Did he call the team owner demanding a nice fat raise in his next contract?

Not Rudy T's style. To celebrate the Rockets' championship, Rudy T drove around town with his buddy Oreste San Juan and his business partner Jesse Brown, pouring drinks for fans all night at a local bar in Rice Village and eating tacos at sunrise with cops and cabbies at Taco Cabana.

"First the Rockets held a private party at Pappadeaux on Richmond. But around 1 am, Rudy T left the party and he, Jesse, and I piled into Jesse's car with the NBA trophy. I drove, Rudy T rode shotgun, and Jesse was in the back seat. We went to the Gingerman bar on Morningside in Rice Village — just us and the trophy," recalls San Juan.

Who is Oreste San Juan? At the time, he was a recreational sports reporter for the old, long-gone Houston Post. He knew Tomjanovich from when he worked at Rudy T's basketball camp in Brenham.

Oreste also is my good friend. I've known him since the first day I arrived in Houston. He has Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner at my house each year and he's a charter member of our group that travels to far-out places around the world.

Who can forget the time we were riding a crowded bus in Warsaw, Poland when a well-dressed gentleman tapped Oreste with his umbrella, pointed out the window, and said, "You see that man walking really fast? He just picked your pocket."

The thief walked off with Oreste's wallet, complete with his passport, credit cards, Continental OnePass card, and money. Oreste spent the rest of that day sitting in the American embassy filling out paperwork so he could get on a plane back home. I told Oreste, think of the bright side, if that guy uses your credit card to book a flight, you'll get his frequent flyer miles.

A couple of years later, we rented mopeds in Nice, France and Oreste wiped out on a mountain heading to Monte Carlo. He was a bloody mess from skidding on gravel and dirt. He spent the rest of that day getting stitched up in the emergency room at Princess Grace Memorial Hospital. A month later, Oreste received a bill from Princess Grace Memorial Hospital. Total: $14.

Back to the Rudy T story: "Rudy T told me to drive him to the Gingerman, so I did," Oreste says. "He sat the trophy on a table and climbed behind the bar and started pouring drinks for people. At 2 am, the owner locked the door and there were still about a hundred people in the place. Rudy kept bartending until about 6:30 am. Somehow, the big ball — that is part of the NBA Championship trophy — fell off. When the sun was coming up, Rudy T decided to leave. I asked him where he wanted me to take him.

Continue on CultureMap to find out where Ken and Rudy went next.

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Houston has lost seven of eight

Mariners ride big fifth inning to series win over Astros

Jake Odorizzi earned his second loss as an Astro Sunday. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images.

With the losing streak behind them by taking the middle game on Saturday night, the Astros returned to T-Mobile Park on Sunday afternoon to try and make it back-to-back victories to take the series. Instead, they'd suffer their seventh loss in the last eight games.

Final Score: Mariners 7, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 7-8, fourth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Ljay Newsome (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-2)

Odorizzi locks in through four while Houston grabs a lead

Jake Odorizzi did not start his afternoon the way he needed to in order to have a good rebound outing compared to his first start. In the 37-pitch first inning, he issued two walks and an RBI-single, putting the Mariners at a significant advantage early. Odorizzi flipped the switch, though, finding a rhythm to retire the next ten batters after that RBI-single to get through four innings with just one run allowed.

Offensively for Houston, they quickly responded to Seattle's run in the first with one of their own in the top of the second, capitalizing on some shoddy defense by Seattle to get Carlos Correa to second to set up an RBI ground-rule double by Aledmys Diaz, tying things up 1-1. It stayed that way until the top of the fifth when a leadoff walk by Chas McCormick would turn into a run after a stolen base and two sacrifice flys to give Houston a 2-1 lead.

Mariners explode for four in the fifth

The lead was short-lived, as Seattle would explode in the bottom of the fifth, getting a leadoff single and one-out walk to set up a two-RBI triple by Mitch Haniger to go ahead 3-2. That would prompt Dusty Baker out of the dugout to end Odorizzi's day and move on to Brooks Raley. Raley would not fare any better, giving up a two-run homer to Ty France to extend Seattle's new lead to 5-2. He would finish the inning, putting Odorizzi's line final: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 89 P.

Seattle takes the series

Seattle would strike again in the bottom of the seventh against Joe Smith. After a leadoff walk, the Mariners would get back-to-back one-out RBI-doubles to extend their lead to 7-2. After Smith in the seventh, Peter Solomon would make his major-league debut in the bottom of the eighth and work around a one-out walk for a scoreless inning. Houston would then come up empty in the top of the ninth, dropping the finale and the series to Seattle.

Up Next: The Astros will travel to Denver tonight and get an off day tomorrow. Tuesday night, they'll start a quick two-game set with the Rockies at 7:40 PM Central. Houston currently has Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1, 5.27 ERA) penciled in as their starter, but with ongoing illness, he has not yet been fully confirmed. For the Rockies, Jon Gray (1-1, 2.87 ERA) is expected to start.

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