HOUSTON (AP) — Guy Lewis finally got the call from the hall.
Lewis, the coach of Houston’s Phi Slama Jama teams in the 1980s, was informed on Thursday that he’ll be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, his wife, Dena, told The Associated Press. The official announcement will come at the Final Four on Monday.
The 91-year-old Lewis won 592 games in a 30-year career at Houston. He got the word of his induction on the 30-year anniversary of his most famous loss — N.C. State’s 54-52 upset of his heavily favored Cougars in the 1983 NCAA championship.
The Houston Chronicle and KRIV-TV first reported that Lewis had been told of his induction.
Lewis was one of 12 finalists for the 2013 class, announced during All-Star Weekend in Houston in February. Many of his former players, including Clyde Drexler and Elvin Hayes, had lobbied for his induction for years. He was nominated each year from 2005-07, but didn’t receive enough votes. According to hall bylaws, if a candidate goes three straight years without passing through one of the initial screening committees, the candidate becomes ineligible for induction for the next five years.
His resume seemed to merit induction all along.
Lewis not only assembled the Phi Slama Jama teams, he also orchestrated the historic “Game of the Century” between Houston and UCLA at the Astrodome in 1968, the first regular-season game broadcast on national television. The Cougars upset the Bruins before the largest crowd to witness an indoor basketball game at the time.
Lewis also won. Known for plaid jackets and wringing his hands with a red polka-dot towel during games, he guided the Cougars to 27 consecutive winning seasons from 1959-85, was named the national coach of the year twice (1968 and `83) and led Houston to 14 NCAA tournaments and five Final Fours.
Lewis had mostly avoided the public spotlight since retiring in 1986 after 30 seasons coaching the Cougars. He suffered a stroke in February 2002 and had been using a wheelchair in recent years. Dena Lewis says the couple won’t travel to Atlanta for the official announcement.