Feb. 15, 2013
HOUSTON - Guy V. Lewis, former University of Houston Men's Basketball head coach and Father of Phi Slama Jama, was named one of 12 finalists for enshrinement in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday morning.
This marked the second time that Lewis has been named a finalist for the Basketball Hall of Fame after receiving the same honor in 2003.
He joined fellow finalists Tim Hardaway, Sylvia Hatchell, Tom Heinsohn, Gary Payton, Dawn Staley, Mitch Richmond, Maurice Cheeks, Spencer Haywood, Bernard King, Rick Pitino and Jerry Tarkanian.
Speaking on behalf of her family, Sherry Lewis issued a statement about her father's announcement as a finalist.
"We are happy that Dad has once again been named a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Anyone who has spent most of his life around the game of basketball would consider it the crowning achievement to be permanently enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and Dad is delighted to take this next step in the process. We hope we can celebrate like this one more time in the near future."
"This is a wonderful step for a man who has meant so much to the University of Houston and has left a lasting impact on the game of college basketball. Great players like Elvin Hayes, Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon became even better under his coaching, and they would be the first to tell you that," Houston Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Mack Rhoades said following the press conference. "While Coach Lewis' on-court accomplishments speak for themselves, his role as a pioneer in integration and as an early visionary who recognized the power of television on college basketball make him one of the game's greatest figures.
"We are delighted that the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame has taken this first step toward his permanent enshrinement and hope to celebrate another day like this with Coach Lewis, his wife Dena, their children Sherry, Vern and Terry, and their family and friends in the very near future."
With the announcement, Lewis moves one step closer to enshrinement in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. His name, along with the other finalists, will now be submitted to the Honors Committee, where he must receive 18 of 24 votes to be inducted.
The latest inductees into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame will be announced April 8 during the NCAA Final Four in Atlanta.
Lewis' name was nominated by the North American committee in early January. With his selection as a finalist, he received a minimum of seven of nine votes from that group to advance in the enshrinement process.
Friday's announcement was made at the Hilton Americas in downtown Houston as part of NBA All-Star Game Weekend.
While his coaching career earns the most attention, it is easy to forget that Lewis was a talented student-athlete for the first two Houston teams in school history. He was a co-captain of Houston's first two teams and was a two-time All-Lone Star Conference First-Team selection.
He remains the only person in Houston Athletics history to be inducted into the Hall of Honor as both a student-athlete and as a coach.
Following his playing career, he served as an assistant for his coach Alden Pasche beginning in 1953 before assuming the head coach position in 1956.
During the next 30 years, he assembled a resume that featured a 592-279 record, five NCAA Four appearances, including three straight from 1982 to 1984, six Southwest Conference championships, 14 NCAA Tournament appearances and 17 postseason berths.
He coached some of the greatest names in Houston and college basketball history, including 1968 National Player of the Year Elvin Hayes and All-Americans Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler in the early 1980s as part of the legendary Phi Slama Jama teams.
In 1996, those three players were named part of the NBA's Top 50 Greatest Players list, making Lewis and North Carolina's Dean Smith the only head coaches to work with three players from that illustrious group in college.
Hayes (1990), Drexler (2004) and Olajuwon (2008) capped their careers with enshrinement in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
To this day, Lewis remains one of only seven coaches in NCAA history to compete in nine or more Final Four games with one program and is the only member of that list not enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame. (24, John Wooden, UCLA; 19, Mike Krzyzewski, Duke; 19, Dean Smith, North Carolina; 11, Adolph Rupp, Kentucky; 10 Denny Crum, Louisville and 9 Bob Knight, Indiana.
He was recognized as the 1968 National Coach of the Year and received a similar honor from the Associated Press in 1983 when his Phi Slama Jama team posted a 31-3 record and advanced to the first of two NCAA National Championship games.
In 2007, he was honored with induction into the College Basketball Hall of Fame.
However, Lewis' influence continues to be felt off the court to this day. In 1968, he was the architect of the Game of the Century between No. 1 UCLA and No. 2 Houston.
That game drew more than 52,000 fans inside the Houston Astrodome. It was the first regular-season college basketball game to be televised nationally and demonstrated the nationwide (and soon-to-be) worldwide popularity of college basketball on television and in large arenas.
Early in his career, Lewis played a key role in the integration of college basketball in the South. He successfully recruited and welcomed legends Elvin Hayes and Don Chaney to Houston Basketball as the first African-American student-athletes in program history and some of the earliest African-American players in the region.