Phoenix Suns hire Jeff Hornacek as head coach
The Phoenix Suns needed a new head coach, and found one who can probably out-shoot the majority of the team's players.
The Suns today hired former Sun and 14-year NBA player Jeff Hornacek the 16th head coach in franchise history, the team announced.
“We are thrilled to introduce Jeff Hornacek as the new head coach of the Phoenix Suns,” said Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough. “Jeff has all of the qualities we were looking for in a head coach—he is a leader, a teacher and a student of the game. Jeff's name has been high on our list ever since my first interview with the Suns. His successes as a player and as an assistant coach, along with his deep ties to this franchise and this community, give us confidence that he will do great things as the next head coach of the Phoenix Suns.”
The Suns had a terrible season last year, and currently aren't in a position to compete. It will take some big roster changes for Hornacek to have a chance at enjoying any success early on.
A basketball lifer and the son of a coach, Hornacek played the majority of his 14-year professional career under renowned NBA coaches Cotton Fitzsimmons, the 14th-winningest coach in league history, and Jerry Sloan, who owns the third-most wins in league history. Hornacek joins the Suns after most recently spending the last three seasons as an assistant coach with Utah (2010-13). Prior to that stint on the bench, he served as the team’s shooting coach for three seasons beginning with the 2007 NBA Playoffs (2007-10).
The NBA career of the first-time head coach comes full circle as Hornacek takes the reins of the Suns, the franchise that originally selected him 46th overall (second round) in the 1986 NBA Draft. A fan favorite, Hornacek played 468 games in a Phoenix uniform from 1986-1992, averaging 13.7 points, including a career-high 20.1 points in his final season as a Sun, before being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in the summer of 1992 in the blockbuster deal that landed the Suns Charles Barkley.
Overall, the 1992 NBA All-Star averaged 14.5 points in 1,077 career games with the Suns, Sixers (1993-94) and Utah Jazz (1994-00), making 11 career playoff appearances in 14 seasons, and earning two trips to the NBA Finals (1997,1998). In that time, the former walk-on at Iowa State University also established himself as one of the NBA’s premier shooters, finishing his career as a 49.6-percent marksman overall, 40.3 percent from three-point range, and 87.7 percent from the free-throw line, which still ranks 14th-best in NBA history 13 years after his retirement. He twice won the league’s Three-Point Shootout at All-Star Weekend (1998, 2000).
A native of Elmhurst, Ill., Hornacek attended Iowa State and went from a walk-on to a Big Eight All-First Team selection as a senior, leading the Cyclones to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, and setting a school record for career assists. In 1991, he became just the fourth athlete in program history to have his number retired. The Jazz also retired Hornacek’s jersey in 2002.
Hornacek and his wife, Stacy, reside in Phoenix, and have three children: Ryan, Tyler and Abby. Ryan is a graduate of Notre Dame, Tyler is a graduate of the University of Southern California, and Abby is a student at USC. He is the brother-in-law of Suns Head Athletic Trainer Aaron Nelson.