Bits from Jeff Hornacek’s “Farewell” Interviews in Utah
How the process went with Phoenix
My son had graduated from college, and we were taking a trip up the coast, and I got a call. I was supposed to go to Charlotte to interview, and Ryan McDonough, the new GM of the Suns, had called and wanted to interview me. And he wanted me to come back [to Phoenix] prior to going to Charlotte.
And we were out on this trip and I said, “Well, you know, if I have to, I’ll come back early then.” And so I flew back from the trip and interviewed the day before Charlotte. Had a great interview, great meeting, about five, six hours.
And then I, you know, it’s like 10:30 at night, I went home. Got on a plane at 8 o’clock, went to Charlotte, and then met with those guys, and we had a great time there talking with those guys. And when I got back into Phoenix from that interview, [the Suns] had called and said that Robert Sarver, the owner, wanted to talk to me the next morning.
And you know, that next morning came and somehow, something slipped out that we were meeting or, I don’t even know how it got out, but you know, Charlotte had called, and wanted to see what, you know, what the deal was. And so it was, everything came up really fast, but you know, when Phoenix made the offer, having a home here, it was a no-brainer.
With interest from other teams, what was it about Phoenix that appealed to you?
Well, besides the fact that we have a home here, more importantly the vision that the Suns have.
You know, when you can go into a situation where they have cap space, they have some young players, they have a couple veterans, they have draft picks coming up, you know, it gives you the ingredients to have some success.
They’ve shown that they will be patient with us, and they know it’ll be a little bit of a, you know, rebuilding, by giving us four-year contracts [for] both Ryan and myself. So you know, they really showed us that hey, we’re not coming in here with unreal expectations that we’re gonna win 50 games or something like that.
So you know, the support has been great and you know, there’s just a great opportunity to turn this thing around here in Phoenix.
On what he learned from Jerry Sloan
He knew when to get on your case, when to really push you and strive to be the best that you can be. You know, it’s very difficult to get on guys. Most guys have their comfort zone of level that they’re gonna work, and then that’s it. Jerry knew how to get you past that and make you a better player.
On the Jazz hiring Karl Malone as a part-time coach
I think that’s great. You know, it’s the kind of situation I was with, with Andrei [Kirilenko] where you can come in, work with the guys, and then you can, you know, go back and do your thing. And for Karl to work with Derrick [Favors] and Enes [Kanter] is gonna be fantastic.
They’re gonna learn a lot. They’re gonna understand a lot of the positioning that will help them to, you know, get easier buckets. And I’m happy that those guys are gonna work with Karl and you know, I think it will be good for Karl too. He’s obviously one of the best power forwards that’s ever played, and any time you can get those guys to teach them a little bit of what made them successful, it can only help those young guys.
I’d've loved to call Karl, but obviously with the news out there in Salt Lake, that won’t happen. But you know, I’m happy for the Utah Jazz, with bringing Karl in to work with Derrick and Enes. I think he’ll be fantastic with them, and those guys will learn a lot.
Random (and by “random” I mean “really, super random”) note: Last season, Hornacek was among many Jazz personnel (front office, coaching staff) that either had been ordered or felt compelled to only and always refer to Tyrone Corbin as “Coach Ty” or “Coach Corbin.” It seemed to come very easily and naturally to Sidney Lowe, but not to Hornacek.
During one of his periodic interviews on 1280 last season, Horny accidentally referred to Ty as “Ty” and was midway into the next sentence when he stopped, went back to the previous sentence and repeated it while changing “Ty” to “Coach.”
He even referred to Ty as “Coach Corbin” last season when it didn’t make sense to do so, e.g. when he talked about Cotton Fitzsimmons and his playing days with the Suns and said, “Cotton became the coach my second year and that’s when they made the trade for Kevin Johnson and COACH CORBIN and Mark West.”
So my very random brain picked up on the fact that Horny finally stopped referring to Tyrone Corbin as “Coach Ty” or “Coach Corbin” in his introductory press conference in Phoenix and subsequent interviews. In these interviews with Utah media, however, it was back to “Coach Ty.”