If/when Jeff Hornacek lands an NBA head coaching job (potentially with Philadelphia), a lot of Jazz fans will have a similar reaction.
“Great for him, bummer for us.”
It would be a bummer for Utah. Hornacek and the Jazz have a relationship the likes of which only a handful of former players and teams have — and even those can have an expiration date.
There’s a reason Hornacek is the go-to TV interview at half-time, and it’s not just because he’s the assistant coach. He has a history. He connects with people, with communities. He’s the kind of guy who, when he’s talking basketball, fans catch themselves nodding at what he’s saying.
Philadelphia knows this, even if Hornacek was only there for a couple seasons. That’s all any good guy in the league needs to establish an equally good reputation. His time in general league circles since then has only added to it.
Hornacek’s head coach appeal isn’t solely due to his good-guy nature. It’s obvious he knows the game. He played, and he did so on two Finals teams while going up against Michael Jordan.
Unlike similar coaching candidates (see: Isiah Thomas), Hornacek doesn’t come across as the guy who rides his playing days reputation to death. That’s important for a team like the Sixers — or any young team. They’ll be less likely to tune him out.
As a former player, he gets it. He comes across as a nice guy, but he’s old-school enough to know when to lay the hammer down. Young-and-talented talents like Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner need that combination, though Turner could probably use Hornacek’s jumper even more.
The other teams that are or might be looking for a head coach (Milwaukee, Charlotte, Phoenix) could all use what Hornacek brings to the table. If he gets a shot, it will be well-deserved.
Even if Utah loses a comforting presence in the process.
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