NBA Coach Of The Year 2014: Jeff Hornacek Of The Phoenix Suns Gets Magic Johnson’s Vote! Players Love Him, And His Former Team Regrets Letting Him Go!
By Staff Writer | February 27, 2014 11:57 PM EST
The Phoenix Suns were taken lightly, and it was not hard to see why. They traded away their only assets for draft picks to those who wanted to make a playoff run.
They never expected the Suns to hold on to the last playoff spot in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.
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If you consider that Minnesota is out of the playoff race now and they have a top 5 player in Kevin Love while Phoenix does not even have an All-Star.
If you consider that the Suns top-scorer Eric Bledsoe(who was just a back-up point guard with the LA Clippers) got injured, and the 27 games they played without him, they still had a winning record (14-13).
The Suns beat the former top team, Indiana Pacers by 24 points. This prompted Magic Johnson, one of the NBA's greatest players, to tweet:
Coach Jeff Hornacek of the Phoenix Suns should win the NBA's Coach Of The Year award!
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 23, 2014
Karl Malone, another NBA legend and former teammate of Hornacek at the Utah Jazz, was asked on whether he saw Hornacek as a potential coach: "Oh yeah. Oh, oh, absolutely. We would be in practice sometimes - practice was over with - (and) he would huddle guys up. He wanted to show you something. I saw that (coaching potential). When he was an assistant coach with the Jazz, yeah, you saw it coming."
His core of young players find it unbelievable that their mentor is just on his very first year at the head coach's chair.
Miles Plumlee who was coached by Coach K in Duke, has this observation: "Honestly, when people call him a rookie coach it surprises me because I feel like he's been doing this forever. I've never once (thought) of him as a rookie coach. He's a real natural at it.
He never gets rattled. He's a really calm presence on the bench, which is great, but (he's) super competitive. ... He's definitely on us, but it's in a way that doesn't get us rattled. Especially us being a lot of young players, we relate to that well."
Goran Dragic, former benchwarmer and now the star of his own team: "He always has the answer. The most important thing, especially for our team because we have a lot of young players, is he's always calm. He's always calm. He knows what he's going to do the next possession and that gives us players big confidence that we can play against the best teams in the NBA."
The Utah Jazz fans, while happy for their former players' success, laments that his achievement is not with their team. From Deseret News comments:
From 'elcapitan': "I miss his presence with the Jazz, Wish he had moved into our head coaching position. It was a gain for Phoenix and a loss for us."
From Yarrlydarb: "'Nobody saw the success the Suns would have in their first season under Jeff Hornacek's mentorship coming'-- Well, I don't know about "Nobody," but Greg Miller and the rest of the Jazz front office surely didn't."
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