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Jeff Hornacek

Jeff Hornacek

Jeffrey John Hornacek (/ˈhɔːrnəsɛk/; born May 3, 1963) is an American professional basketball coach and former player. He most recently served as the head coach of the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played shooting guard in the NBA from 1986 through 2000.

Jeff Hornacek
Personal information
Born(1963-05-03)May 3, 1963
Elmhurst, Illinois
Listed height6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Listed weight190 lb (86 kg)
Career information
High schoolLyons Township
(La Grange, Illinois)
CollegeIowa State (1982–1986)
NBA draft1986 / Round: 2 / Pick: 46th overall
Selected by the Phoenix Suns
Playing career1986–2000
PositionShooting guard
Coaching career2011–present
Career history
As player:
1986–1992Phoenix Suns
1992–1994Philadelphia 76ers
1994–2000Utah Jazz
As coach:
20112013Utah Jazz (assistant)
20132016Phoenix Suns
2016–2018New York Knicks
Career highlights and awards
  • NBA All-Star (1992)
  • 2× NBA Three-Point Shootout champion (1998, 2000)
  • No. 14 retired by Utah Jazz
  • First-team All-Big Eight (1986)
  • No. 14 retired by Iowa State
Career NBA statistics
Points15,659 (14.5 ppg)
Rebounds3,646 (3.4 rpg)
Assists5,281 (4.9 apg)
Stats [26] at Basketball-Reference.com

Elementary and high school

He attended Komarek Elementary School in North Riverside, Illinois, and Gurrie Middle School and Lyons Township High School in La Grange, Cook County, Illinois.


Hornacek redshirted at Iowa State University (ISU) in 1981; he was a team walk-on who played from 1982 to 1986.[1] The son of a high school basketball coach, he became an all-conference player in the Big Eight Conference, playing for coach Johnny Orr. As a point guard he guided the Cyclones to the Sweet Sixteen of the 1986 NCAA tournament. His shining moment came at the Metrodome in Minneapolis when, after first hitting a shot to tie the game and send it to overtime, Hornacek hit the game winning shot in overtime, a 26 foot jumper at the buzzer, to give ISU its first NCAA tournament victory since 1944, beating Miami University, March 14, 1986, 81–79. Two days later, he led the Cyclones to the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen, in a 72–69 upset of second seed Michigan. Orr, who had previously left Michigan to coach at Iowa State, called it the greatest victory of his career. Hornacek left ISU with a Big-8 record of 665 career assists and 1,313 career points. He was the fourth player in Cyclone basketball history to have his number retired when his No. 14 jersey was hung from the rafters of Hilton Coliseum in 1991.

NBA career

Phoenix Suns

Hornacek in 1987

Hornacek in 1987

He was the 22nd pick in the second round (46th overall) of the 1986 NBA draft, by the Phoenix Suns. The 2nd round draft pick that was used to select him was traded three times before finally ending up with the Suns. First, the Los Angeles Lakers packaged it in the deal to acquire Byron Scott from the San Diego Clippers before the 1983–84 season. A week later, the Clippers sent the pick to the Detroit Pistons in a deal to acquire Ricky Pierce, and on that same day, the Pistons dealt the pick to the Suns for David Thirdkill.

The Suns struggled in Hornacek's first two seasons, but after hiring Cotton Fitzsimmons as coach and acquiring free agent Tom Chambers, the Suns went from 28 wins in 1987–88 to 55 in 1988–89. Hornacek was a "third option" on offense after Chambers and Kevin Johnson. This trio led the Suns to four straight NBA playoff appearances, including two Western Conference Finals.

Philadelphia 76ers

After his sixth and most productive season in 1991–92, in which he led the Suns in scoring average (20.1 ppg) and earned an All-Star appearance, Hornacek was traded (along with Andrew Lang and Tim Perry) to the Philadelphia 76ers for Charles Barkley. With Hersey Hawkins, the Sixers' leading scorer, in the shooting guard position, Hornacek was assigned point guard responsibilities. Although he had a career high 6.9 assists per game in his only complete season with the Sixers (1992–93 season), his stint as a point guard was not a success (26 wins, 56 losses). Midway through the 1993–94 season (February 24) he was traded to the Utah Jazz (for Jeff Malone) where he could return to his natural shooting guard position alongside John Stockton.

Utah Jazz

Like in Phoenix, Hornacek was a complementary "third option" to Karl Malone and Stockton. Hornacek was also one of the best on offense in the NBA in moving without the ball, something essential for a shooting guard. He was an instrumental part of the Jazz's drive to the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998, where the Jazz lost to the Chicago Bulls both times. He remained with the Jazz until knee problems forced his retirement in 2000. It was revealed that he has no left meniscus due to wear and tear on his body, so bad that he could have needed knee reconstruction because it also is arthritic.[2]

On November 23, 1994, he set a then-NBA record with eight consecutive three-pointers in a single game against the Seattle SuperSonics. That same season, he also tied an NBA record 11 consecutive three-pointers, from December 30, 1994 through January 11, 1995. One of the best free throw shooters in the league, once making 67 in a row (November 12, 1999 – January 6, 2000), one of his most well-known mannerisms was stroking the side of his face three times before every free-throw attempt. That was his way of saying hello to his three children, Tyler, Ryan and Abigaile, during the game.[3] He holds a career free throw percentage of 87.7, 16th highest in NBA history.[4]

Hornacek won the NBA three-point competition twice, and along with Natalie Williams, star of the Utah Starzz, won the All-Star 2-Ball Challenge.

After the 1999–2000 season, Hornacek retired from basketball to spend more time with his family.[5] Hornacek's No. 14 jersey was retired by the Utah Jazz, for whom he played from 1994 to 2000, and helped get them to the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998. Coach Jerry Sloan and Jazz announcer "Hot Rod" Hundley referred to Hornacek affectionately as "Horny".[6] All in all, Hornacek enjoyed a 14 year NBA playing career including 1077 career games played.

NBA career statistics

  GPGames played  GS Games started MPG Minutes per game
 FG% Field goal percentage 3P% 3-point field goal percentage FT% Free throw percentage
 RPG Rebounds per game APG Assists per game SPG Steals per game
 BPG Blocks per game PPG Points per gameBoldCareer high

Regular season




Coaching career

He was hired for the 2007–08 season by the Jazz as a special assistant coach and to help Andrei Kirilenko and others with their shooting.[7][8] In May 2008 Hornacek interviewed for a coaching position with the Chicago Bulls, meeting with general manager John Paxson. He put off seeking a coaching position until his children were older so the extensive travel would not put excess pressure on his family.[8] After the departure of Jerry Sloan and Phil Johnson in February 2011, Jeff Hornacek became a full assistant coach with the Utah Jazz.[9]

During 2013, Hornacek was considered a head coach candidate for two of his former teams, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Phoenix Suns, as well as the Charlotte Bobcats. On May 28, 2013, he was named the head coach of the Phoenix Suns.[10] Hornacek has stated that his coaching style is reminiscent to that of Cotton Fitzsimmons and Sloan, who both coached him back when he played for the coaches' respective teams. Hornacek also coached the Suns' Summer League team during the 2013 season in Las Vegas. In his first game as head coach at the Summer League, he helped lead the team to an 82-69 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. The Suns went on a six-game winning streak before ultimately losing in the inaugural championship round to the Golden State Warriors 91–77. Hornacek was 5–2 in pre-season and he started the 2013–14 NBA season with a 104–91 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers and an 87–84 victory over the Utah Jazz, both times at home. Hornacek also became the team's first ever head coach to start out his coaching stint with a 4–0 record at home games.

Hornacek won the NBA Coach of the Month award in December 2013, his first coaching honor, after leading the Suns to a 10–3 record during the month. Hornacek also became the third former NBA player to win both Player of the Month and Coach of the Month awards (after Larry Bird and Larry Drew), and the first coach to receive both awards with the same team.[11] For the season, the Suns improved by 23 victories upon the previous season's record, which led to a 48–34 record in Hornacek's first season as a head coach. This accomplishment lead to the Phoenix Suns becoming the most improved team during the 2013-14 NBA season. Despite the improvement, the Suns still missed the playoffs and Hornacek was the runner-up coach in the NBA Coach of the Year Award receiving 37 1st place votes. He lost to three-time winner Gregg Popovich.[12]

On February 1, 2016, Hornacek was fired as head coach of the Phoenix Suns after two-and-a-half seasons in the position.[13] On June 2, 2016, the New York Knicks officially announced Hornacek as their new head coach.[14] His first season in New York held a promising enough start, to the point where the team had a 16–13 record early on. However, malcontent surrounding the Knicks between the front office and some of their players resulted in Hornacek having a 31–51 record by the end of the season. On April 12, 2018, the Knicks fired Hornacek after a 29–53 season.[15]

Head coaching record

Regular seasonGGames coachedWGames wonLGames lostW–L %Win–loss %
PlayoffsPGPlayoff gamesPWPlayoff winsPLPlayoff lossesPW–L %Playoff win–loss %
Phoenix2013–14824834.5853rd in PacificMissed playoffs
Phoenix2014–15823943.4763rd in PacificMissed playoffs
New York2016–17823151.3783rd in AtlanticMissed playoffs
New York2017–18822953.3544th in AtlanticMissed playoffs


Iowa State University records:

  • Career steals: 211 Career complete games: 30 Season assists: 219 (1985–1986; 2nd w/198 1983–1984) Season, assists per-game average: 6.83 (1984; 2nd w/6.63 – 1986)

NBA totals:

  • Games: 1,077 Minutes played: 33,959 Points: 15,659 (14.5 per game) Assists: 5,281 (4.9 per game) Steals: 1,536 (1.43 per game)

Personal life

Hornacek is of Czech descent.[16] He is the brother-in-law of Phoenix Suns athletic trainer Aaron Nelson.[17] When Joe Proski was the Suns' head athletic trainer, Hornacek recommended Nelson as an assistant for him.[18] Nelson would be his assistant in 1993 before being the head athletic trainer in 2000 onward. Hornacek's father, John, was a high school coach for basketball and baseball at St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois.[19] Hornacek considers his father, alongside Cotton Fitzsimmons and Jerry Sloan, as an influence towards his coaching career.

Hornacek married his wife Stacy on June 7, 1986.[20] Jeff and Stacy have three children: Ryan (born 1989), Tyler (born 1990) and Abby (born April 25, 1994).[21] Abby became a digital host for the online 120 Sports network in 2016,[22] and joined Fox Nation in 2019.[23]

Hornacek is represented by Steve A. Kauffman and Spencer Breecker of Kauffman Sports Management Group.[24]

See also

  • List of National Basketball Association career assists leaders

  • List of National Basketball Association career steals leaders

  • List of National Basketball Association players with 1000 games played


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