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Hornacek optimistic, excited about homecoming

Optimism is the most quintessential component of an introductory press conference, and Jeff Hornacek’s was littered with it on Tuesday when he was officially introduced as the next head coach of the Phoenix Suns.

After spending the first five minutes of the conference reflecting on his time playing for the organization, weaving in other significant pieces of Suns history, Hornacek expressed his happiness to be returning to the Valley, where he has lived for years.

“It (feels) like coming home,” the 50-year-old coach said when asked by a reporter how it felt to rejoin the Suns. “It’s just a great feeling.”

Hornacek light-heartedly joked about his departure from the Suns back in 1992, when the sharp-shooting guard was sent to the Philadelphia 76ers along with Tim Perry and Andrew Lang for Charles Barkley. “They shipped me out of here for Charles,” he said, drawing chuckles from those in the room. He then recounted the story of suggesting the Suns trade for Barkley, saying, “I was part of trading myself.”

But hard feelings – really, negativity in any fashion – had no place in Tuesday’s press conference. For Hornacek, a coach’s son, such things are nonexistent when compared with basketball acumen.

“I always say if I was a GM or an owner, I would have made the same trade, too. It was a great trade for the organization.”

Hornacek was drafted by the Suns in the second round of the 1986 draft and he quickly rose to stardom, grabbing the starting shooting guard job during his second year in the league. He averaged more than 20 points per game in the 1991-92 season, the season prior to his trade, making the Western Conference All-Star team.

Hornacek’s positivity wasn’t limited to his reflections on his shortened past with the Suns. It also surfaced as he spoke of the team’s future.

“There (are) a lot of great players on this roster,” the coach said, speaking of his new team, who finished with the worst record in the West last season, at 25-57.

Indeed, Hornacek may be home, and happily so, but another journey altogether lies ahead.