There is a lot of sentiment that rookie NBA coach Jeff Hornacek will win Coach of the Year honors.
Good for him. He deserves it, though this year there are a lot of strong candidates. But if there is a more capricious award, I’d like to know about it.
I say this because Hornacek is in line to win it as a rookie, yet Jerry Sloan never won the award in 26 years as a head coach. He had arguably the most consistent team in basketball in the 1990s, went to the NBA Finals twice, yet never won the prize.
That might be because he never won a championship, though the voting is done before the playoffs begin. Besides, Don Nelson never won a title, either, yet earned three COY’s. It makes little sense how a coach like Sloan could be in the Hall of Fame, but never be voted the league’s top coach.
Bill Fitch won one COY, yet had a 944-1106 all-time record.
Jack Ramsay never won COY, yet won a championship in 1977. Lenny Wilkens, the second-winningest coach ever, won just one COY award.
I’m all for Hornacek winning the award this year; I’d probably pick him if I had a vote (I did vote when I was a beat writer covering the Jazz). At the same time, I’m still faked out that Sloan never won one. It’s true he had two hall of famers on his team and never won a title, but nobody ever said the Jazz had the best overall talent in basketball.
When you look at the people who have won the award, it gets weird: Del Harris, Mike Dunleavy, Doc Rivers, Rick Carlisle, Hubie Brown, Mike Brown….all had some good seasons, but none has had a better career than Sloan.
So if Hornacek wins the award, he better cherish it.
These things can be elusive.