This past April, former Jazz forward Trey Lyles complained to another former Jazz forward, Richard Jefferson, on a podcast that coach Quin Snyder has an apparent penchant for excessive and overlong practices.
“We had practice every day. I thought I was in Kentucky again,” Lyles said. “… I didn’t say nothing about working hard. Three-hour practices. Come on, now.”
Then, this week, another former Jazz forward, Gordon Hayward, seemed to take another dig at Snyder’s practice proclivities while praising how Celtics coach Brad Stevens runs his ship.
“He seemed pretty logical with how he did things as far as practices were concerned — ‘We’re not going to run you into the ground for three hours because you have to play this weekend, and I also want you to be good in March, too.’ Which I thought was pretty cool,” Hayward said.
Snyder, for his part, knew what was up when a reporter gently approached the issue by suggesting “your three-hour practices have become legendary around the league.”
“Urban legend!” Snyder retorted with a laugh, later adding, “The three-hour thing … I’m thinking there’s maybe something behind that.”
That said, Snyder made no apologies.
“We believe in working,” he said, simply. “I think that’s why people who have played in our program have gotten better. That’s the correlation.”
He also pointed out he’s not some inflexible monster bent on running his players into the ground just to satiate some sadistic coaching method.
Yes, he pointed out, when he got here, the team won 25 games the year before and was particularly young, so practices tended to be longer. But, he subsequently mentioned, he also held fewer shootarounds last year as the Jazz transitioned from young team to playoff team.
He then praised the collective work ethic of this year’s group, noting, “Our guys have been purposeful in how they’ve practiced.”
“The fact that our guys put the time in to get better, stay healthy is something we really feel is the strength of the program,” he added. “The way guys work and how purposefully they do it, whether it’s something as simple as getting a massage or eating right — we try to give them every … amenity may not be the right word, but very opportunity to be better. It’s something the guys enjoy and appreciate.”
Rookie guard Grayson Allen, for one, claimed that Wednesday’s long practice “wasn’t that bad,” adding he was used to long sessions considering, “I just came from four years of Coach K practices.”
Veteran forward Joe Ingles, meanwhile, chided media members for not giving him the chance to add his two cents.
“I thought you were going to ask me about Gordon,” he said with a laugh as he walked away, “but you got scared!”