08 Nov GETTING TO KNOW NY KNICKS COACH Jeff Hornacek
Born May3 1963 (age 53) in Elmhurst, Illinois
Title: Head coach of the New York Knicks
2011–2013Utah Jazz (assistant)
2016–presen New York KnicksSalary:$5,000,000
What drives you?
A: Just try to do your best that you possibly can. Not everybody can
be a Michael Jordan, but you can be the best player that you’re
capable of doing with your God-given talents. But to try to achieve
that, there’s a lot of hard work. And there’s not a lot of guys that
will put in that hard work to get to that level.
What was it like playing with John Stockton and Karl Malone?
A: The great thing about it is when I got traded to Utah, prior to
expansion, it seemed when I was in Phoenix, we played Utah every year
in the playoffs, and so I had played Utah about 50 times prior to
that. So when I got traded there, they said, “Well, there’s a lot of
plays, how long’s it gonna take you to learn ’em?” I said, “I already
know.” But with John and Karl, what I found out, probably within five
games, is that all we gotta do is nod our head, and we know what each
other was gonna do. We just had such a connection right from the
If you could go back in time and pick the brain of one basketball
player or coach, whose would you pick?
A: I loved watching Magic Johnson. You knew right when he got the ball
on an outlet pass, what was going through his mind. … He’s probably
anticipated all these different things that are gonna happen and gonna
develop. To ask him, when he first got the ball, “How many things were
you looking at at one time?” There’s so many guys in the past. I
always probably tend to look at who are all the champion guys? That’s
the level the everybody’s trying to get to, and I think guys who win
championships, from the coaching standpoint, to the players’
standpoint, and management, they think a little bit differently. So if
you go to the Red Auerbachs or something, that won all those
championships. That’s why I was excited to come here to New York.
Phil’s won 11 championships. There’s a different thought process that
goes on amongst champions.
How will you deal with stress in the New York pressure cooker?
A: I’ve never really been a big stress guy. I don’t know if you’re
born with it. I was in one of these, it’s like Pass, Punt and Kick, it
was called Pitch, Hit and Throw when I was 9. Our final part of that
competition, we did the hitting and the throwing the day before. The
final competition was at the 1972 All-Star Game. With all the baseball
All-Stars lined up along first-base and third-base line, and they took
us out there to pitch, and that was the last thing. There was a
target, and I went out there and threw four out of five and ended up
winning the competition. People ask me about it, “Well, there’s 60,000
people at the game, you got all the All-Stars lined up,” I said, “I
only saw the red target.” That’s all I saw. Again, I think it goes
back to I always felt if I just lay it all out there, it’s the best I
How do you motivate?
A: I think a lot of it’s gotta come internally. Building their
confidence, making them believe that they can do it is the big part.
Occasionally it’s the mix in of jumping on ‘em and try to push ‘em and
jump-start ’em if they’re slacking a little bit. To me, it’s when
you’re showing the guys that you can play as hard as you can and have
fun at the same time, you’re gonna succeed. And when the players know
that you’re putting them in the most successful opportunities you
possibly can, they play.
Please Tell Knicks fans why you’re the right man for this job.
A: We’re gonna bring a blend of tough play, have fun, excitement, and
I think a style that the fans will really enjoy getting behind the
guys. It’s gonna be a great balance between half-court play and
getting out in the open. I think most fans, what they want to see is
the players, win or lose, play as hard as they can. And that’s what
we’re gonna do.