Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Sources: Tomjanovich to quit Lakers


Rudy Tomjanovich will step down as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers after tonight's game against the Portland Trail Blazers, sources told ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher.

His health, although not a relapse of bladder cancer, and dissatisfaction with the way the Lakers are playing contributed to the decision, sources told Bucher.

Tomjanovich missed Sunday's game because of a stomach virus, and did not attend practice on Monday.

Assistant coach Frank Hamblen will become the interim coach.

The Lakers hired Tomjanovich on July 10, replacing Phil Jackson. They are 23-19, in seventh place in the Western Conference.

Tomjanovich, who guided the Houston Rockets to back-to-back NBA titles in 1994 and 1995, was in the first year of a five-year contract worth a reported $30 million. He left the Rockets after 12 season in May 2003 after being diagnosed with bladder cancer.

"It's just excitement, nothing but excitement," Tomjanovich said this fall about his return. "It's a positive. I've been like a young school boy since this has happened. At times I haven't gotten to sleep, but it's not anxiety. It's excitement."

After losing to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals, the Lakers ended their successful partnership with Jackson and traded Shaquille O'Neal to the Miami Heat.

Hamblen has been a coach on five championship teams, three with
the Lakers and two under Jackson with the Chicago Bulls.

I expect Assistant Coach Bryant to take over and lead the resolute L.A. Kobes to a strong lottery position. Coach Bryant will also design a new offense intended to give Kobes star Bryant more touches.

There. Ifeel better now.


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