“There are only my guts and my heart.”
That’s what Quin Snyder told me the other day as he loaded up and scrambled the final bricks of his decision to stay as Utah Jazz coach or not.
He prefaced it with this: “There is no piece of paper with [a list of] advantages and disadvantages.
On Sunday, this last brick was loaded. The decision was not to stay.
All is well, with a little melancholy.
He told me, after his intention was revealed, “I’m so proud of what we’ve done. I know we don’t have a streamer or a ring, but I don’t need it to validate our trip. We did it with respect and we did it with authenticity.
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He also said he had “a deep sense of sadness, as well as an incredible amount of pride and gratitude. In the end, I just couldn’t see a clear path forward. I’m sure I’ll feel the grief I’m feeling right now for a while and periodically for a long time.
One more thing: “It’s really difficult and I’m very emotional. I guess that’s exactly what it should be.
The man has his reasons for leaving and they are good, honest. And they are his. He simplified it to: “It was about time.”
I got to know Snyder well over the years. I had the opportunity to discuss with him important topics far beyond basketball, life, philosophies. The conversations we had were…wonderful – in their seriousness and in their humanity.
I had strong relationships with other people I covered. Ron McBride is a king of a human being. LaVell Edwards? Was the same. The wise and wise conversations I had with Larry Miller still resonate in my head. I really liked the guy.
But Quin I viewed on a different level.
It was a strange affair – the crusty columnist and coach, the former initially wondering if he was getting played en route to positive press, the latter initially suspecting someone with a pen might expose him . It was, indeed, strange, especially because Snyder was very careful about what he revealed to anyone, let alone a loudmouth like me. We laughed at the irony of it all. And yet, when our discussions were confidential, they remained there.
We had a spoken agreement honored, however, as part of my job: if he did something stupid, made bad decisions, I would tear him up for it. He welcomed the idea, even offering to admit from time to time that, from his point of view, his genius – my term, not his – turned into brain fog.
There have been opportunities. Not a lot.
For the past few months, I was never sure if Snyder would stay or go. And I got the feeling he wasn’t sure either. Like Tevye, the main character of Fiddler On the Roof, his thought process went like this: “On the one hand. … On the other hand. …”
He had a hard time explaining it.
Snyder expressed with appreciation the good times with the Jazz and with heaviness the occasional tension with the bad. It was this kind of back and forth in him. And that is human right.
What he did with the Jazz was remarkable. He took a once proud franchise, a team that had fallen into disrepair, and turned it into a consistent winner.
Some critics said the Jazz, especially in the playoffs, never won enough.
It is true that the club, especially last season, having had the best record in the regular season, flopped in the second round against the Clippers. Snyder got into a deep funk because of it, a funk he never fully shook off last season, largely due to personnel shortfalls that have gone unaddressed since the previous playoff loss. .
Some thought he was struggling to make adjustments, but from his explanations – no apologies – it was clear to anyone watching that the Jazz needed more of what they didn’t have – on the floor, not on the coaches’ bench.
That’s how he got blamed for things that weren’t his fault – he fully admits he wasn’t perfect – in the Jazz front office and on the pitch. Those who claimed he “won” when former CEO and Vice Chairman Dennis Lindsey was removed from office, and some of them had agendas to protect. What did Snyder win? He may have had disagreements with Lindsey at times — many members of the Jazz organization did — but he didn’t drive Lindsey away.
He unfairly took the blame and bore the scars.
But he never said anything publicly, one way or another.
It just turned on.
Anyone who’s ever taken the super highway to have in-depth discussions with Snyder about basketball and its intricacies usually followed him through at least three freeway exits. I could rarely follow him, but everything made sense in his mind. I always told him that if he got tired of coaching, he could make a lot of money as a TV analyst. I never felt like he would do that, but… who knows? He probably could have made more money in banking and investing or other endeavors than by coaching a game, however substantial those earnings were.
You want the truth about Quin Snyder?
He told me he was in no rush to make the decision to stay with the Jazz or leave. After the end of this last season, he wanted to spend some quiet time with his family and let everything settle in his…belly and his heart.
On the other hand, even though he was contracted to the Jazz for more seasons, he didn’t want to cripple the team with uncertainty about him, didn’t want it to swell and crash on everyone. , everything.
So he decided it was time for him to leave.
I don’t know where it will end. He privately indicated that he had no solid plan in place as to whether he would take time off or move immediately to another job. He didn’t reveal it.
One thing is certain: he has or will have, either immediately or later, opportunities to train elsewhere. And teams will take their place in line to hire him, if they’re lucky enough to have him consider them.
And he will continue to win – how much will depend on the tools he is given to build. Great coaches admit it. He is one of them. What he will require, more than anything, is the support necessary to do the job at hand.
This work will be done – with respect and authenticity.
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