Tomjanovich grew up in Hamtramck, Mich., which he describes as "an industrial town with a neighborhood bar on every corner." Five years ago he gave up drinking, which led him to a spiritual awakening. "Not to get too deep into it," he says, "but I have a trust in God now."
Tomjanovich believes that the stresses and pent-up feelings of coaching contributed to his cancer. Though he was known as a players' coach, Tomjanovich endured myriad arguments and crises with stars that never became public. In 1999 he was hospitalized for exhaustion after too many late nights spent reviewing tapes and stats in the mistaken belief that he could control the result of every game. "I've looked at our championship tapes, and I realize I didn't pull off any magic," he says. "Our players made some plays for us that got us past those series against Phoenix, New York and Utah. Sometimes as a coach you can get caught up in thinking, 'I'm the one who made that happen.' But it's not true."
Tomjanovich remains interested in coaching, and other franchises are intrigued by him—the New Orleans Hornets inquired about him a week before deciding to hire Tim Floyd—but he is in no mood to rush back in, preferring to spend the coming season as a scout for the Rockets. "This will give me some time to live a more stress-free life," he says. "It would be a shame to get a good report from the doctor and then get thrown right back into the trench."
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