Rudy Tomjanovich -- testifying again Wednesday in the trial of a lawsuit alleging the former Laker coach and his wife sold a money manager a Pacific Palisades home riddled with water seepage problems -- said he only saw one instance of water intrusion.
Tomjanovich told a Los Angeles Superior Court jury that he was rushing to get to Staples Center for a game on a stormy night in December 2004 when he saw water falling two stories from the ceiling to the floor around the entry to the residence. He compared what he saw to a "waterfall" within the 6,600- square-foot home on San Onofre Drive.
"That was the only time I ever witnessed any water coming into the home," Tomjanovich said in his second day of testimony. "It was repaired shortly after that."
Strata Capital founder Steven Bardack sued Tomjanovich and his wife, Sophie, in December 2008, claiming they failed to disclose the water-related problems and evidence of mold when he bought the home from the couple for $6.5 million in 2007. Tomjanovich told jurors he spent more than 30 years as a player, assistant coach and head coach with the Houston Rockets before leaving the NBA in 2003. He was lured back to professional basketball by the Lakers a year later.
"I was offered one of the biggest contracts in the league to come back and coach," he said. "I was humbled, honored, so I took the job."
Tomjanovich said he stayed about two months at a Marina del Rey hotel working with his coaching staff and searching the Internet for a home when he found the Pacific Palisades residence, which was being sold by "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis. He said he went to look at it.
"It was magnificent," Tomjanovich said. "I had never seen a view like that before. I was awe-struck by it."
Tomjanovich, now 63, resigned as the Lakers' coach in February 2005 after 41 games because of health issues. He said he stayed with the team doing scouting and other work and also helped with the U.S. Olympic basketball team.
He said that when he left the Lakers, he could not afford to keep homes in California and Texas, so the family decided to move back to Houston because his children did not want him to sell that residence.
Cross-examined by Bardack's lawyer, H. James Keathley, Tomjanovich said he did not read the disclosure documents related to the sale of the home to Bardack because he thought they would be reviewed by an attorney. However, Tomjanovich acknowledged he never received a confirmation that any lawyer looked at the documents and approved them.
Bardack still lives in the home.
Francis bought the house in 1999 and enlarged it from its original size of 800 square feet, according to Tomjanovich attorney Paul Fine's court papers. He sold the residence to the Tomjanoviches for $4.25 million, Fine's court papers state.
Tomjanovich played in the NBA as a small forward. In December 1977, he was punched by a Laker player during an on-court melee at The Forum in Inglewood and sidelined for five months.