What is Phi Slama Jama? Houston’s high-profile 1980s team, legendary players, in mind
The memory of Phi Slama Jama will be passed on to another generation when Houston takes on Baylor in the national semifinals of the Final Four on Saturday in Indianapolis.
The phrase was coined by Houston Post columnist Thomas Bonk while the Cougars made four consecutive four-final appearances between 1982-84. These teams, coached by Guy Lewis, produced Hall of Fame players such as Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, not to mention some of the most memorable moments in the history of the NCAA Championship.
Here’s everything you need to know about Phi Slama Jama:
Who trained Phi Slama Jama?
Guy Lewis coached the Cougars in the 1956 season for 86 seasons, and he directed the program to five appearances in the Final Four. The Cougars made appearances between 1967-68 with all two Elvin Hayes Americans.
The program, however, peaked between 1981-84 in the years of Phi Slama. Houston was 88-16 in that three-year span with a 42-16 record in the Southwest Conference game. The Cougars reached the Quarterfinals three seasons in a row.
Phi Slama Jama players
In 2011, the Bleacher Report named him the 1982-83 team in Houston the third best of the starting five lineups. That’s because two members of the Basketball Hall of Fame showed up.
Hakeem Olajuwon, A 7-0 center, was a member of all three teams. He averaged 13.3 points, 10.7 rebounds and 4.5 blocks in his college career. “Dream” was No. 1 overall and was two NBA champions with the Rockets.
Clyde Drexler, 6-7 striker, starring in the 1982 and 1983 Final Four teams. Drexler averaged 14.4 points per game. “The Glide” was the NBA champion with the Rockets in 1995 (Olajuwon was also on that team) and a member of the 1992 Dream Team. He returned to coach Houston from 1998 to 2000.
Including other NBA players Michael Young, a member of all three groups; Rob Williams, Larry Micheaux, Rickie Winslow and Greg Anderson.
Reid Gettys, Alvin Franklin and Dave Rose roles were in the time of Phi Slama Jama, and Benny Anders – 6-5, 200-pound striker – was a fan favorite and was a key character ESPN 30-30-to-30 “Phi Slama Jama” documentary.
Why were they called Phi Slama Jama?
The Cougars played a fast-paced style with 78.8 points in that three-year span and did it with a slam dunk.
Houston Post columnist Thomas Bonk coined the term “Phi Slama Jama” after the Cougars targeted Pacific 112-58 on January 2, 1983. They rose in popularity and the group became a cult phenomenon during the 1983-84 season.
Did Phi Slama Jama win a national title?
Houston lost three straight in the quarterfinals between 1982-84. A look at these games:
North Carolina Number 68, Houston Houston Number 6 (March 27, 1982)
Tar Heels, winning the national championship under coach Dean Smith, defeated the Cougars in the national semifinals of the New Orleans Superdome Final Four. Sam Perkin scored 25 points, and James Worthy and Michael Jordan scored 18 and 14 points, respectively. North Carolina limited Williams, Houston’s top scorer, to two points in an 8-of-8 shootout.
NC State No. 54, Houston No. 52 (April 4, 1983)
In one of the most memorable incidents of all time, Jim Valvano drove Wolfpack ahead of the Cougars in a national championship thriller at the Albuquerque Pit, NM Drexler had some bad problems in the first half and NC State suffered 20 points. Olajuwon’s 18-bounce performance. Wolfpack won in the last second of Lorenzo Charles.
Georgetown No. 84, Houston No. 75 (April 2, 1984)
Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing collided in a dynamic center-to-center game at the Kingdome in Seattle in a national championship game. Olajuwon had 15 points and nine boards, while Ewing had 10 points and nine boards. Five Hoyas scored in double figures and Georgetown won the national championship with coach John Thompson.
What is the heritage of Phi Slama Jama?
These Houston teams are among the best teams to ever win a national championship and the Cougars ’career ended the year before the NCAA Championship was extended to 64 teams.
Houston is one of 10 schools to reach the Final Four three seasons in a row, but eight of those schools won national championships. UCLA (2006-08) is the only other school to have accomplished this feat without winning a national title.
Now, Houston is in the Quarter-Finals for the first time since 1984, which will bring back those memories.
What do we remember most about Phi Slama Jama? It’s best to watch dunks for 15 minutes: