Wednesday , Feb , 02 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Tomjanovich resigns as Lakers coach

Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) – Los Angeles Lakers head coach Rudy
Tomjanovich has announced his resignation, barely halfway through his first
season on the job.


Tomjanovich resigns as Lakers coach

Tomjanovich said the decision was based on his health, although it is in no
way related to the bladder cancer that forced him to take a medical leave of
absence as coach of the Houston Rockets during the 2002-03 season.

“There are no outside influences — be it pressure from above — anything to
do with my players or being here in Los Angeles. This is all about me,” said
Tomjanovich during a news conference Wednesday. “I came here in such great
spirits and with this passion to take this opportunity and make the best of
it.

“I had dealt with all kinds of stress and as the time went by I started to
feel my resistance going down. I went from this energetic, pumped-up guy to
being sapped of a lot of energy. Why this happened now. Why my body couldn’t
take it, I don’t have the answer.”

Tomjanovich missed this past Sunday’s game because of a stomach virus and
spoke with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak about the situation. Kupchak
said by Monday he knew Tomjanovich was going to resign, but wanted to wait to
make the announcement until Tuesday because the club had a game Monday night.

“Maybe I took on too much,” Tomjanovich added. “I had to be honest with Mitch
and tell him how I felt.”

Los Angeles posted a 92-79 win over Portland on Monday, with assistant Frank
Hamblen guiding the team for a second straight victory.

Hamblen will take over the coaching duties on an interim basis, while
Tomjanovich will remain with the organization as a consultant.

The Lakers are 24-19 this season, but have a new look this year without the
traded Shaquille O’Neal, and the club is now playing without star guard Kobe
Bryant, who is sidelined with an ankle injury.

Tomjanovich took over as the 20th coach in franchise history last July,
signing a five-year deal worth a reported $30 million, after Phil Jackson and
the Lakers mutually agreed to part company following the NBA Finals loss to
the Detroit Pistons.

The 56-year-old Tomjanovich was a lifetime Rocket before joining the Lakers.
He played for the Houston franchise, and as coach led the team to consecutive
NBA titles in 1994 and ’95.

In May 2003, Tomjanovich stepped down from the Houston job after 12 years
following his medical leave to treat bladder cancer.

He has a career coaching record of 527-416, including 503-397 with the
Rockets.

LAL