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Quin Snyder will not win the NBA Coach of the Year award.
Write it down now.
Not… it’s going to… happen.
Not much either. At least Snyder would never think so.
Even if he won the hard stuff, he would probably pass it off as someone else’s reward to be reaped, not his own.
This trophy often goes to a coach in a larger market who, in one season, lifts and dismisses a team that had previously swerved and a carom in a ditch, now bringing them back to some skill and relevance.
Snyder in 2021 did something more impressive, more difficult.
He put together a team that had been good and pushed them to greatness.
Good to good is more difficult than bad to good.
Think of it like this: a golfer who is an 18-year-old handicapper can easily, with a little effort and time and the proper instruction, drastically reduce his stroke average to, say, a 12- or a 10-. For a golfer who is, say, a 7-handicapper to get to scratch takes a frightening miracle.
This season’s Jazz has been that miracle, guided by a leader who has made all sorts of changes to his squad structure without adding much more talent, other than the welcome in a familiar face – the big backup Derrick Favors.
Other than that, Snyder boosted an identical group to what had been an unimaginable record. His team this season had a mild 0.722 winning percentage. Last season he was 0.611.
Same group, different results.
If the main job of a head coach is to make their players the best they can be, to put them in a position to do it, Snyder has done just that with the Jazz. During the regular season, he transformed an outfit that was supposed to finish what… fifth? … Sixth? … West in the team with the best record in the league (52-20).
This shouldn’t surprise anyone, given that it doesn’t just reflect Snyder’s coaching ability, it reflects his … life. His whole existence has been an adjustment, from top to bottom to top. No surprise, then, that he pretty much adjusted everything about his charges to make them better.
Let’s go back and start running.
Quin Snyder didn’t grow up in a perfect environment, just in a blessed place, a neighborhood called Dawn Villa near Seattle. He lived with his family on Mercer Island, Washington, which, if you’ve been there, you know, is a wealthy, tree-lined suburb full of gums and lollipops, a place to hang out. limousines and Lamborghinis. This is where the rich go to live and prosper in their mansions.
Snyder’s family weren’t too wealthy, his father was a deputy principal, but his reality was all of that. As a child he was a great athlete and a smart and popular student. A childhood friend of his, a young neighbor named Ryan Rosoff, who watched Snyder with a sense of awe, once told me that Snyder, when he was 12, used to organize whistling ball games in its front yard, with typed-up rules for participation. If a child broke these rules, they were kicked out of the game.
Everyone played by the rules because Snyder was by far the most gifted pre-teen in the bunch, and the youngsters from the houses on the streets all around followed him naturally, bringing out his mix of insight and athleticism.
Rosoff said at the time that Snyder was pretty much the same all those years ago that he is now: “Smart, good looking, a great athlete, humble. He was just… different.
If there is one thing that stands out about the Jazz coach, and it is certainly the case this season, it is that he is able to earn the confidence of his players, those stubborn multimillionaires, athletes of world class, who do not lend that confidence easily. It goes way beyond changing position on the floor for pick and roll in the middle of a game and / or pre-season stress of defending value, using it to enter the transition to throw. 3 pointers early in the shot clock. , this last part a substantial divergence from previous strategies. And yet, when he asks them to make personal adjustments to their individual games, sometimes at the cost of a significant sacrifice, they adhere to it, following his example.
He did it with the little players on the team, you know who they are, and with his stars, Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell.
Rosoff, who continued into adulthood to form a company specializing in corporate leadership skills, explained Snyder’s presence and professionalism thus:
“It’s a lack of pretension. If people feel like you’re full of bullshit, they won’t follow you. People see Quin as a brilliant guy. When you are smart and successful, there are two ways you can go. You can become a pretentious D-bag or you can become a big influence on those around you. He deflects praise and accepts criticism. It protects the [players] who work for him. They can see that he has their best interests at heart. Plus, he’s really the smartest guy in the room.
The man has a law degree and an MBA from Duke. He was a philosophy student at the undergraduate level.
Snyder’s journey from academician and gifted athlete – he went on to become a McDonald’s All-American, winning state preparation titles before playing in three Final Fours at Duke – to full-time coach also had his points strengths and weaknesses. Its doodles and hollows.
After beating John Calipari and Bill Self to be named a very young Missouri head coach, he saw initial success, but was later marred by personal issues, including divorce and the loss of too many games, mixed up. to NCAA violations. , indiscretions that he could not overcome in Colombia.
He was either fired from that job, turning into a prolonged funk that made him consider retiring from coaching altogether. The years that followed were dark and gloomy. Snyder knew he could fall back on his graduate studies to be successful in another field.
But during this time, in the end, Snyder rediscovered something he wasn’t sure he had.
Passion for a game and an adventure he once embraced, and it turns out he always has.
“I realized I had something that I love to do,” he said on coming to Utah. “Work hard, learn, and I had a lot of people who helped me do it.”
That is, he fought back, took all kinds of assistant jobs from Los Angeles to Moscow, and coached a G League team – the Toros – in Austin, Texas, filled with players who had nowhere to go but upstairs, all in front. a whole bunch of empty seats.
There wasn’t a lot of glamor or fame in it.
Along the way, he found a path to his staples – determination and commitment to improve, and peace of mind – that took him from Timbuktu to, finally, Salt Lake City in 2014 as a Jazz head coach.
His teams here have adhered to his mantra of focusing on improvement, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. He’s fully aware that he’s judged by wins and losses, but that has never really been his focus.
“I believe people are absolutely committed to working hard to improve themselves,” he said. “Focusing on that is a key.”
This holistic approach is essential.
It’s not just about tactics, preparation, film study and strategy. It’s not just player development. A Jazz member who requested anonymity put it like this, “He empowers the people who work for him – the coaches – and play for him. It teaches them that everyone can keep improving, getting better and learning to be better. It is the purpose of life. It is not to win a game or a prize. “
Winning in life.
I get it, it’s starting to sound like some kind of tribute. The guy is not dying.
It’s not meant to be that, it’s meant to be the truth about a remarkable coach who was born in a privileged position, who saw more wins than most, and then crashed dramatically.
And then looked at his own problems, recognized them, learned from them, then worked like a madman not only to recover what had been lost, but to pull past it all to where it is now – on a slope he continues to climb, taking a team that won just 25 games the season before arriving in Utah to lead the outfit with the best record in the NBA, better than any previous jazz team. by Snyder.
Now deep in the neck in a playoff series with the Memphis Grizzles, does anyone think Quin Snyder is giving a rodent the background to win a Coaching Award determined by a media vote?
He’s too busy reducing his team’s handicap, shaving off the blows of his sleeves, working to get to zero, beating the course just ahead.
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Jake Scott weekdays from 2pm to 7pm on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone, which is owned by parent company that owns Utah Jazz.