Cougar Hall of Famer

Jim Nantz almost loses it as long overdue UH legend finally makes Basketball Hall of Fame

Jim Nantz almost loses it as long overdue UH legend finally makes Hall

Guy Lewis sideline
Guy V. Lewis cut quite a figure on the Houston sideline, towel and all.
News_NCAA Salute_Ron Girotto_Guy Lewis_Renu Khator_Jim Nantz
Jim Nantz made sure Guy V. Lewis (seated) was a center of attention at Houston's Final Four. Ron Girotto , Guy Lewis , Renu Khator , Jim Nantz Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchlightGroup.com
Guy Lewis sideline
News_NCAA Salute_Ron Girotto_Guy Lewis_Renu Khator_Jim Nantz

Most sports hall of fame announcements are formal, largely muted affairs. If you're looking for emotion, you have to turn to the inductees. The men doing the announcing tend to play it straight as can be.

But that wasn't an option for Jim Nantz when it came to Guy V. Lewis.

Nantz — a University of Houston graduate who considers Houston his hometown — virtually waged a one-man campaign to draw attention to the injustice of Lewis, the UH coach who guided Phi Slama Jama, not being in the Basketball Hall of Fame, during the 2011 Final Four in Houston. CBS' lead voice made sure that Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame's bigwigs were at a dinner he held to honor Lewis, gave shout outs to the old coach at several high-profile events including the NCAA Salute, talked about him at every opportunity.

 "It's personal for the city of Houston, which has wanted this moment for a long, long time." 

So when Nantz found himself reading off Lewis' name as an official Basketball Hall of Fame inductee-to-be nearly two years later, he couldn't help himself. The usually unflappable Nantz almost lost it in an Atlanta Marriott Marquis.

"This one is very personal for me," a clearly emotional Nantz said in an announcement broadcast on NBA TV Monday. "And it's personal for the city of Houston, which has wanted this moment for a long, long time.

"The whole city of Houston is rejoicing right now at this very sentence: Welcome to the Basketball Hall of Fame, Coach Guy V. Lewis."

The news was expected. It leaked out days before that the 91-year-old Lewis had finally made it this year. But that didn't make actually being able to finally officially call Guy V. Lewis a Hall of Famer mean any less to Nantz.

Lewis' record long spoke for itself: Five Final Fours, 14 NCAA Tournament appearances (back when making the tournament was an accomplishment), 27 straight winning seasons, 592 wins overall, coach to three of the 50 greatest players of all time (Hakeem Olajuwon, Elvin Hayes and Clyde Drexler). But for some reason it still took others like Nantz speaking for him to nudge Lewis into the Hall — 27 years after he retired.

That's something to get a little emotional over.