Basketball Legends Honor Guy V. Lewis
UH great makes strong HOF case.
by Maurice Bobb / @ReeseReport
When you’re good at something, you don’t have to brag because other people will do it for you. Former University of Houston basketball coach Guy V. Lewis, now 89, won 592 games with the Cougars, coached three Hall of Fame players (Elvin Hayes, Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon), took his teams to five Final Fours (including two title games) and was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007, but it was his players that gathered at UH yesterday to brag on their former coach’s achievements and rally behind his induction into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.
“I have no idea why Coach Lewis isn’t in the Hall of Fame,” Drexler said. “There’s no plausible explanation for him not being there. None. I don’t want to take anything away from anyone who’s in there because they all deserve to be there, but I think as much as any other coach in the history of college basketball, Guy Lewis deserves to be there. In my mind, he’s as good as John Wooden. As good as Dean Smith. When you leave out a guy like Guy Lewis, what you’re saying is we don’t respect his accomplishments.”
Who can forget the Phi Slamma Jama? Who can forget the “Game of the Century?” That was all Lewis. He was the “big man coach” with the vision. He shaped Hayes. He molded Olajuwon. He guided the Clyde “The Glide.” He orchestrated perhaps the most famous college game of all time—the match-up between top-ranked UCLA with Lew Alcindor and No. 2-ranked Houston at the Astrodome.
Houston defeated the Bruins 71-69 in what was the first regular-season college basketball game broadcast nationwide. That game resulted in Houston hosting the 1971 Final Four and made Hayes, Houston and Lewis’ program a household name.
“It’s a travesty that he’s not in the Hall of Fame,” Hayes said. “We have three players in the Hall of Fame, three players on the NBA 50 greatest team, five Final Fours and coach is not one of the greatest coaches and greatest minds in basketball?”
Lewis took some time to get into the Athletic Alumni building due to his confinement to a wheelchair since suffering a stroke in 2002. But he was wide-eyed and expressive and obviously overjoyed to see his former players and receive such an honor.
“We should not have to be promoting getting Coach Lewis into the Hall of Fame,” former All-American Otis Birdsong said. “If these achievements can’t get you into the Hall of Fame, then there’s no way he can get in. These achievements and what he’s done for the game speak for themselves. And people say, ‘Well, you know he had a lot of talent.’ Phil Jackson had a lot of talent. You’re supposed to have a lot of talent. That’s how you win.”
Lewis won and he won big. Now it’s up to the HOF selection committee to deliver the ultimate spoil.