Quin Snyder Recalls Passing Of Father And Kobe Bryant
Salt Lake City, Utah – For the first time, Quin Synder spoke at length about the loss of his father and Kobe Bryant this past year. The Utah Jazz coach joined the “Basketball Jones” with ESPN’s Mark Jones. Snyder recalled the coaching lessons he learned from his father, and Bryant’s extreme competitiveness.
Snyder’s father, Gary Snyder, passed away in October from cancer at the age of 80. In January, a helicopter crash claimed Bryan’ts life. Bryant was just 41 years old.
Snyder was an assistant coach to Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2011.
Kobe Bryant And Snyder
Snyder recalled bonding with Bryant during his lone season in Los Angeles. The two first bonded after Bryant suffered a torn ligament in his shooting wrist.
“He was out for a few games and he wanted to stay with the coaching staff,” Snyder recalled. “He would sit next to me and that’s where we really started to connect because we watched the game–talked during the game.
However, the relationship would soon blossom beyond the court.
“As the year went on–talking about old movies and he’s banging out Elizabeth Taylor and Cleopatra, you start to realize he’s a guy a perspective on life that’s much broader on just basketball.”
Bryant Nearly Injured Snyder
Despite their connection off the floor, Bryant didn’t take it easy on Snyder on the court. Two even trash talked one another about Snyder’s alma mater Duke.
“We had a drill, and I had to hold the ball of the middle of the drill,” Snyder recalled. “There were four guys surrounding me and they would go around and try to steal it from you. He made some comments about Duke and I said something back and I just figured we were just talking. Next time I had the ball he took his arm and just cracked me right over the forearm. I thought he broke my forearm and I was like, ‘Oh my [gosh],’ that gave me a little bit of perspective.”
Bryant’s Final Game
Snyder was coaching the Jazz against the Lakers during the final game of Bryant’s career. Bryant’s final performance became one of the great moments of the Hall of Fame inductee’s career. The Lakers guard torched the Jazz for 60 points in a 101-96 Lakers victory.
Snyder remembered joking with Bryant before the game about how they were going to slow the Lakers legend.
“I was like, ‘We’re going to double you every possession and get it out of your hands,’ and he was like ‘Go ahead,” Snyder said. “We didn’t double team him because it wouldn’t have mattered, and it wasn’t the right thing. And he must have scored 14 points in the last three minutes and had that game. On a weird level, I was happy that the guy stored 60 against a team that I was coaching.”
After retirement, Bryant would lend a helping hand to Snyder. During the Jazz 2017 playoff run against the Los Angeles Clippers, the guard was in contact with Snyder on how to defeat the crosstown rivals in the first round.
“We were playing the Clippers, and I can remember because we didn’t talk, but I texted him now and then,” Snyder remembered. “I don’t think he was a huge fan of the Clippers, Mark, he had some ideas of how we should guard those guys and it was fun.”
The Jazz defeated the Clippers in seven games.
Snyder’s father passed away early in the 2019-20 season. Not one to share details from his personal life, Snyder hadn’t spoken publically about the loss of his father. Jones asked Snyder about the lessons he learned from his father growing up in the state of Washington.
Synder’s father was a baseball player and coach, before serving as the athletic director at Mercer Island High School. As he did from Bryant, Snyder recalled learning competitiveness from his father.
“More than anything he taught me how to compete, it didn’t matter what,” Snyder remembered. “I played everything growing up until I got to high school.”
Snyder was reminded of the number of people his father touched during his life in sports at the funeral.
“He passed away this past year, and during his services, my brother and I were going through a lot of old things,” Snyder said. “He actually had a lot of old players that he had coached that came to the funeral and the service and everything it was really neat to reconnect with those guys.”
Snyder is famously meticulous during Jazz practices. The Jazz coach also inherited his father’s attention to detail.
“We got our hands on some hold practice plans it was pretty cool to see the level of organization, the detail,” Snyder recalled.
“I can’t tell you how many times I was raking leaves when it was dark because I had forgotten about them. Or cleaning the car, there was a level that was expected in the smallest things. And you begin to embrace that as a person and that’s what I remember as much as him teaching me how to shoot, or hit a baseball, it was the competitiveness.”
Snyder and the Jazz hope to return to the floor to finish the 2019-20 NBA season. The Jazz were at the forefront of the hiatus after center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19.
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