The Phoenix Suns made the hiring of Jazz assistant coach Jeff Hornacek official Tuesday, annoucing the popular former Sun and Jazz guard as the 16th head coach in franchise history.
While there may be some discontent among Jazz fans that the franchise is watching a player whose No. 14 is retired leave town, General Manager Dennis Lindsey said, "I'm just thrilled for him. It's something that he really wanted."
Hornacek was traded by the Suns to Philadelphia in 1992, and he was shipped to the Jazz a year and a half later. In Utah, he became the missing piece for a team anchored by Karl Malone and John Stockton, helping the Jazz reach the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998.
Hornacek maintained his Phoenix-area home, and resided there in the offseason. His kids attended school there. In Phoenix, the move is being hailed as a homecoming for one of the best-liked players in team history. Beyond his popularity, however, there is a swell of support for Hornacek as a strong coaching selection, one who they think can help turn around a dreadful team.
"It's a pretty picture for Phoenix," Lindsey said. "You resurerct the program. He's such a good family guy and a balanced person and I think Jeff is really confident."
Hornacek was an assistant under Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin for two seasons, and a shooting coach for four years before that.
"He was an advocate for our young players," Lindsey said. "[He has a] quiet confidence, poise. He won't throw guys under the bus to save his own hide. He wants to play with his pace. In Phoenix, they don't need only to win, they need to entertain, just twith all the phoenix teams that have played with pace and scored a bucnch. I know Jeff believes in that style. I know those things have probably resonated [with Suns management]."
— Bill Oram