Former University of Houston coach Guy V. Lewis, who won nearly 600 games, was the architect of the high-flying, rim-rattling Phi Slama Jama dynasty of the 1980s and helped integrate college basketball in the South, will be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, a person familiar with the selection process said Thursday.
Later Thursday, Lewis’ wife, Dena, said the 91-year-old legendary coach received the news of his election after years of being passed over.
“We think it’s great,” Dena Lewis said. “Long overdue. I cried when I heard.”
Asked how Lewis, who retired in 1986, reacted, she said: “He said, ‘That’s great.’ ”
Despite his on-court success, Lewis was presumably bypassed from consideration – only making it as a finalist one previous time in 2003 – for never winning a national championship. Word of Lewis’ making the Hall came on the 30-year anniversary of his most stunning loss – North Carolina State’s 54-52 upset of the heavily favored Cougars in the 1983 championship game.
Lewis failed to receive enough support in recent years and was removed from the ballot for five years from 2008-2012. He became eligible again this year and joined a group of 12 finalists announced during NBA All-Star Weekend in Houston in February.
“The coaches I hated coaching against were the real good ones, and Guy was one of those,” legendary UCLA coach John Wooden told the San Antonio Express-News in 1998. “I think Guy took a bum rap because he never won a national championship.”
Here’s Lewis’ Wikipedia page, which includes his yearly record as UH coach. The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame is a bit of an odd duck since its MLB and NFL counterparts it incorporates all parts of the game – NBA, ABA, college, women’s, and international basketball. There is longstanding criticism of the backlog of worthy entrants, including very loud protest over Guy V’s exclusion up till now. It’s great to see this oversight get corrected while the very deserving recipient is still with us to appreciate it. Congratulations, Coach, on the long overdue honor. Mean Green Cougar Red and Hair Balls have more.