G League To All-Star, Quin Snyder Is Back Atop The Coaching World
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Quin Snyder seems to be able to master just about anything.
The 6’3 guard was a prep-superstar at Mercer Island High School in Washington, where he led the team to the top ranking in national polls in 1985.
Snyder then helped take Duke to three Final-Four appearances in four seasons with the program, and despite earning All-American Honors during his last season, also found time to double-major in philosophy and political science.
After his playing career ended, Snyder returned to Duke where he earned his J.D. from Duke’s Law School and an M.B.A. from the Fuqua School of Business. While earning his graduate degrees, the boy-genius dabbled in NBA coaching, working under Larry Brown with the Los Angeles Clippers during the 1992-93 season.
While Snyder has proven he can conquer just about anything on the basketball court, including leading the Utah Jazz to the best record in the Western Conference and earning an invite to lead Team LeBron at the 2021 All-Star game, there’s one thing he hasn’t quite figured out how to do comfortably.
Talk about himself.
With the Jazz owning the best record in the NBA, Snyder has been positioned squarely in the spotlight for local and national media. Since being named the All-Star coach on February 17, the attention has only grown.
While Snyder has shown a willingness to embrace his obligation to those who cover the team, it’s clear that it isn’t a subject he ventures into voluntarily.
Before a March 1 meeting with New Orleans Pelicans, Snyder wasn’t shy about his preference for ducking center stage.
“You guys are asking me all these personal questions,” Snyder laughingly protested after being asked about his coaching career.
When asked what meant to be asked to lead the All-Star team, he again redirected all praise.
“It’s just a statement about our team and our players,” Snyder said.
“Ultimately that’s the reason you’re there is because your team is winning. You don’t have to read too much into that.”
Quin Snyder Opens Up About Life Before Jazz
Snyder was named head coach of the Jazz in 2014, more than two decades after his first stint with the Clippers.
In between the brief stop in Los Angeles and now his most recent stay with the Jazz, Snyder experienced all of the extremes that come with a life in coaching.
After earning his graduate degrees at Duke, the basketball wunderkind spent the next half-decade coaching at his alma mater under Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski.
Then in 1999, despite being just 33 years old, Snyder was named head coach at Missouri where he led the Tigers to an Elite Eight appearance after just four years on the job. In 2006, Snyder resigned for reasons that exist more in a game of basketball-telephone than through verified accounts, ultimately leading to the coach walking away from the game.
After a brief hiatus, Snyder reemerged as the head coach of the San Antonio Spurs D League affiliate Austin Toros, a job he reflects on with more reverence and romance than any of his previous stints before joining the Jazz.
“You look back at the D league and that was a really impactful and important time for me both professionally and personally,” Snyder said. “And the support that I got from the Spurs organization, and [General Manager] RC [Buford] in particular, as well as [Coach Gregg Popovich], of course. But, I’ve looked back really fondly on the D League.”
Austin is where Snyder met now Jazz assistant coach Dell Demps who joined the team during the offseason. Working in less than ideal conditions, Snyder and Demps grew close having to adjust to the D League’s uniquely underfunded workspaces.
“My traditional office when I was with the Austin Toros was the coffee shop around the corner,” Snyder remembered. “Dell Demps and I met there and we had some great meetings and developed a great relationship.”
After leading the Toros to back-to-back 32 win seasons, coaching in the D League All-Star Game, and winning the Coach of the Year Award, Snyder was once again a hot commodity in NBA circles.
Snyder Returns To The NBA
Snyder returned to the NBA as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia 76ers under veteran play-caller Doug Collins. After one season in Philly, Snyder accepted a promotion under Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown for a season. 12 months later, Snyder moved to Russia to work for CSKA Moscow under legendary Italian coach Ettore Messina.
After one season, Snyder returned to the NBA where he spent a year under Mike Budenholzer with the Atlanta Hawks before accepting the leading job with the Jazz.
After becoming one of the most well-traveled coaches in NBA circles, Snyder welcomed the chance to build a solid home.
“I mentioned moving to Russia, to Atlanta, and then Salt Lake,” Snyder said of the difficulties with his nomadic lifestyle. “It was rewarding not to have to take all the stickers off my boxes.”
Between his final season in Austin and his first season with the Jazz, Snyder lived in six cities, in two different countries, and coached in three different leagues over six years.
But he wasn’t alone on his journey.
Snyder married his wife Amy during his final year in Austin, and the two have since welcomed four children.
When asked about being named as the All-Star coach, Snyder said the media’s curiosity about the honor was matched only by his wife.
“She’s excited,” Snyder joked. “When you’ve started in the D League together there’s a gratification about the evolution of your time together, especially when you move. I moved six times six years or five times in five years. A long road.”
Snyder Revered By Jazz Players
Though Snyder’s latest bit of mastery has come in deflecting self-adulation, there’s been no shortage of praise from his Jazz players.
Entering what could have been a tumultuous offseason, the Jazz secured long-term commitments from free-agents Jordan Clarkson and Derrick Favors, both of whom pointed to Snyder as their reason for signing in Utah.
“I want to play for Coach Quin,” Favors said after signing his three-year deal. “He’s my favorite coach in the world right now.”
Clarkson was the Jazz mostly highly sought after free-agent during the offseason, but despite saying he planned to explore the open market, the high-scoring sixth man returned to the team on a four-year deal just hours after free-agency opened.
“Him having my back has meant the world to me,” Clarkson said in August. “Makes me want to go out and just run through a wall for him.”
After being named head coach for the Western Conference All-Star team, Snyder said he received an unusual amount of attention from his team celebrating the honor.
“All of a sudden I got more text messages from our players than I was used to,” Snyder said. “So it was pretty fun.”
Rudy Gobert, who followed a similar path from the D League to the All-Star game also shared his compassion for his Jazz coach.
“It’s a blessing and I think it’s just a reward,” Gobert said. “It’s just a reward for how he changed this franchise and I think we all appreciate it.”
Fellow All-Star Donovan Mitchell added what Snyder’s recognition meant to him personally.
“We’re a really well-coached team, that’s what really stands out,” Mitchell said. “Coach gave me the opportunity and I love him for that.”
Snyder will pen the next chapter in his story alongside Mitchell and Gobert at the All-Star game on Sunday night. But the 54-year-old said he hopes his 35-year basketball career is far from over.
“The whole journey to me has been important and significant,” Snyder said. “I’d like to think that there’s more out there.”