Rudy Tomjanovich isn't taking the most devastating punch in sports history personally anymore, telling TMZ Sports he actually feels sorry for Kermit Washington -- the guy who detonated his jaw in 1977.
Washington recently pled guilty to fraud charges and faces up to 8 years in prison ... but before that, he was most famous for leveling Rudy T. with a shot doctors said could've killed him.
No joke, Tomjanovich suffered a broken jaw and nose, plus a cerebral concussion ... and was leaking spinal fluid into his mouth.
Despite all that carnage, when we got him out in Beverly Hills, Rudy told us the brutal shot was water under the bridge and that he actually felt sorry for Washington -- whom he forgave long ago.
"I feel sorry for him. I know Kermit. We had made up after that incident and I know he was trying to make it like anybody and I feel for the guy."