Guy Lewis bigraphy, stories - American basketball player and coach

Guy Lewis : biography

March 19, 1922 -

Guy Vernon Lewis II (born March 19, 1922) is a former NCAA basketball coach who led the University of Houston Cougars program for 30 years from 1956 to 1986.

Head coaching record

Coaching career

After serving in World War II, Lewis played basketball for the University of Houston until his graduation in 1947. He became an assistant coach there in 1953, and head coach in 1956. As a coach, he was known for championing the once-outlawed dunk, which he characterized as a "high percentage shot", and for clutching a brightly colored red-and-white polka dot towel on the bench during games. Lewis was a major force in the racial integration of college athletics in the South during the 1960s, being one of the first major college coaches in the region to actively recruit African-American athletes. His recruitment of Elvin Hayes and Don Chaney in 1964 ushered in an era of tremendous success in Cougar basketball. The dominant play of Hayes led the Cougars to two Final Fours and sent shock waves through Southern colleges that realized that they would have to begin recruiting black players if they wanted to compete with integrated teams.

Guy Lewis led the University of Houston Cougars division I basketball program to 27 straight winning seasons and 14 seasons with 20 or more wins, including 14 trips to the NCAA Tournament. His Houston teams advanced to the Final Four on five occasions (1967, 1968, 1982–84) and twice advanced to the NCAA Championship Game (1983, 1984). Among the outstanding players who Lewis coached are Elvin Hayes, Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Otis Birdsong, Dwight Jones, Don Chaney and "Sweet" Lou Dunbar. Lewis's UH teams twice played a role in events that helped to popularize college basketball as a spectator sport. In 1968, his underdog, Elvin Hayes-led Cougars upset the undefeated and top-ranked UCLA Bruins in front of more than 50,000 fans at Houston’s Astrodome. This was the first nationally televised college basketball game, and subsequently became known as the “Game of the Century”. It marked a watershed in the emerging popularity of college basketball. In the early 1980s, Lewis's Phi Slama Jama teams at UH gained notoriety for their fast-breaking, "above the rim" style of play as well as their overall success. At the height of Phi Slama Jama's notoriety, they suffered a dramatic, last-second loss in the 1983 NCAA Final that became an iconic moment in the history of the sport. Lewis's insistence that his teams play an acrobatic, up-tempo brand of basketball that emphasized dunking brought this style of play to the fore and helped popularize it amongst younger players.

The Cougars also lost in the 1984 NCAA Final, to the Georgetown Hoyas led by Patrick Ewing. Lewis retired from coaching in 1986 at number 20 in all-time NCAA Division I victories, his 592-279 record giving him a .680 career winning percentage. In 1995, the University of Houston modified the official name of the on-campus basketball arena to "Guy V. Lewis Court at Hofheinz Pavilion" in honor of Lewis, making him a university namesake.

Lewis was hospitalized for a stroke on February 27, 2002.COLLEGES: MEN'S BASKETBALL ROUNDUP. New York Times. February 27, 2002. GUY LEWIS HOSPITALIZED: Guy Lewis, the former University of Houston coach who took his team to 14 N.C.A.A. tournaments and 5 trips to the Final Four, was hospitalized yesterday for treatment of an apparent stroke. Lewis, who will turn 80 next month, was taken to Houston's Methodist Hospital about 2 a.m. The university said in a statement that Lewis was under observation but was alert and speaking and would be undergoing tests to determine the severity of what doctors believed was a stroke. He later recovered, but experienced some lasting effects from the episode.JOHN MARSHALL: Associated Press. November 18, 2007. Notes: (Guy) Lewis, who was too ill to attend the ceremonies, led Houston to five Final Four appearances and 27 consecutive winning seasons, including the 1983 "Phi Slamma Jamma" team that came within seconds of a national title. (Lewis had suffered a stroke and gave a videotaped acceptance speech.) Lewis maintains his residence in the University Oaks subdivision adjacent to the University of Houston, where he has lived since 1959. Lewis was the honoree at the 2012 Houston Aphasia Recovery Center luncheon benefit.


  • 30 years as a head coach
  • 592 career wins
  • Five NCAA Final Four appearances
  • Two NCAA Final appearances
  • Three 30-plus-win seasons
  • 4 conference championships
  • Produced 10 first round NBA draft selections, and 29 NBA players in total
  • Winning Coach of the Game of the Century vs. UCLA in the Astrodome
  • Named National Coach of the Year in 1968, and again in 1983
  • Coach of four Southwest Conference Tournament champions—1978, 1981, 1983 and 1984
  • College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007
  • Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013
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