It might only be his first year as a head coach in the NBA, but Jeff Hornacek has seemingly spent his entire life in preparation. As the son of a coach, Hornacek developed the skills needed to succeed as a leader at an early age. But who were the coaches that had the biggest impact in Hornacek’s life? Click through to find out.
”He’s coached me on and off the court since I was little. I picked up a lot of what I know now from him since he was a coach and teacher for so many years.”
John Hornacek, Jeff’s father, taught at Marshall High School in Chicago from 1961 to 1963 as a physical education teacher and as an assistant basketball and baseball coach. John then moved to St. Joseph High School in Westchester as Dean of Students from 1963 to his retirement in 1998. Jeff credits his father as being one of the most influential people in his life in general.
”He gave me a shot in college, put the ball in my hands and let me run the team. He had a lot of confidence in me.”
Playing for legendary coach Johnny Orr at Iowa State, Hornacek became an all-conference player in the Big Eight Conference. As Hornacek stated, Orr certainly believed in his young point guard as evidenced by trusting Hornacek to take the last-second shot in overtime in the 1986 NCAA Tournament against Miami (OH). The game-winning shot gave Iowa State its first major NCAA tournament win in over 40 years at the time.
”Again, John [MacLeod] was a coach who had a lot of confidence in me. He was the kind of coach who called every play and guys would complain when they looked over to him to get the call that he’d hide the signal under his jacket. I was a rookie and would just go out there and call the plays; I didn’t look at him at all [laughs]. He never said two words to me about it. He had the confidence that I could make the calls and get the ball to the right guy.”
”Obviously, Jerry [Sloan] is a major one. His hard-nosed, very professional, take-every-play-like-it-is-your-last mentality really resonated with me.”
Hornacek has characterized his own coaching style as a blend of Sloan and…(click ahead to find out)
”He was big in my career. He was a guy who allowed us to just go out there and have fun. One thing I’ll always remember about him was a time when I was leading a 1-on-4 fast break. I’m a coach’s son, so I pulled it back out. Cotton [Fitzsimmons] got mad and called me over. ‘Shoot the ball,’ he told me. ‘You’re not going to get a better shot in our offense than an open 18-footer. Go ahead and shoot it!’ [laughs] So I said, ‘ok.’”