Jeff Hornacek’s NBA playing career lasted 14 years and it was bookended by six-year stints with the Phoenix Suns and the Utah Jazz.
His NBA coaching career, which is now in its third year, has exclusively been with those two teams.
On Friday, the team that retired his No. 14 jersey — the Jazz, with whom Hornacek spent the previous two seasons as an assistant coach —will visit the first-year head coach’s latest stomping grounds at US Airways Center.
Beyond the history surrounding Friday’s game — the second of the Suns’ young season — naturally, the question for coach Hornacek is how well he knows the workings of his former employer and how much of an advantage familiarity is.
“Everybody knows each other’s plays anyway,” Hornacek told the media gathered at Friday’s shootaround. “It’s no surprise what anyone runs with all the scouting reports. You see teams year after year (and) coaches are familiar with certain guys.”
Hornacek went on to describe his own familiarity with a trio of Jazz players — Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Gordon Hayward — pointing out the strengths of each. Both big men mentioned — Favors and Kanter — Hornacek said were “strong as an ox”.
And the Jazz’s coaches, led by third-year head coach Tryone Corbin, are relatively the same to what Hornacek knew them to be.
“They run a few new things,” the Suns’ coach said. “But they’re going to know everything we run, too. That’s the nature of the game.”
Due to the mutual acquaintance of the two teams, Hornacek believes Friday’s game boils down to one primary thing.
“Who executes better?”
Of course, Hornacek’s camaraderie with Jazz personnel remains intact, despite his chief focus being on victory Friday.
“If I see them in the hallway, I’ll say hello to them. Maybe wave to them.
“But I’ll talk to them after the game — after the battle is over.”