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Head coach Quin Snyder of the Utah Jazz shouts instructrions to his team as they play the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on November 3, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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G-League Helped Quin Snyder Prepare For Empty NBA Arenas

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz season will resume on July 30 inside the NBA’s Disney campus. The coaches are back, the players are back, so are the TV cameras. One glaring piece missing, the fans. NBA games will be played in front of empty arenas to finish the season, with only the in-arena sound to fill the void. While some of the league’s coaches and players may be unprepared for the experience, Jazz coach Quin Snyder remembers the quiet atmosphere during his time coaching in the NBA Developmental League.

Snyder began his coaching career at Duke after bypassing an opportunity to play in the NBA. After coaching the Missouri Tigers, Snyder left coaching for a foray into the world of business. However, Snyder’s departure from basketball didn’t last long. The coach accepted a position leading the Austin Toros, the San Antonio Spurs D-League affiliate, rebuilding his coaching resume far away from the bright lights of some of college basketball’s biggest programs.

Snyder’s experience in the developmental league goes back to it’s less glamorous days. Snyder coached the Toros between 2007-2010 when fewer teams existed, and salaries were considerably lower. In 2017, Gatorade became the title sponsor of the league, remaining the developmental system the G-League, and brought with it a new financial commitment.

Adjusting to Empty NBA Arenas

Upon entering the Disney campus, the Jazz have been using hotel rooms as office space and converting conference rooms into full-court practice facilities. After three years in the Developmental League, Snyder is comfortable operating in the NBA’s makeshift basketball bubble.

During Snyder’s three seasons with the Toros, he coached in the D-League All-Star game, reached the league Finals, and earned Coach of the Year honors. Despite his D-League success, the job wasn’t always glamorous.

According to a 2008 ESPN article, Snyder often shared locker rooms that were also used to provide showers for Austin’s less fortunate population.

“My traditional office when I was with the Austin Toros was the coffee shop around the corner,” Snyder remembered. “[Toros Executive] Dell Demps and I met there. And we had some great meetings and developed a great relationship. So as he said, I don’t think it’s about the location as much as it is the substance.”

Along with impromptu meeting locations, Snyder knows what it’s like to play in front of empty arenas.

“We played in plenty of gyms that had 50 to 100 people when we were in the D-League,” Snyder said of the Toros. “But we’re still playing basketball. So if there aren’t fans, I think players are going to compete regardless.”

The Jazz reopen the NBA season against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Disney resort. Sitting in the fourth seed, Snyder’s team is looking to secure a more favorable matchup in the first round of the playoffs. While Snyder admits the atmosphere will be different, one aspect of the game won’t change.

“It certainly will feel a little different with respect to homecourt,” Snyder said, “But in the end, it’s still basketball.”

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