An impressive era of basketball came to an end on June 5 in Salt Lake City.
Quin Snyder resigned from coaching the Utah Jazz after eight seasons, a 372-264 overall record and the third-longest active tenure for a head coach in the NBA.
“It was time,” Snyder said during a news conference about his decision the next day. “Time for the Jazz to move forward. Time for me to move forward. It just made the most sense to me.”
Snyder didn’t have that same luxury at the conclusion of his first head coaching job at Missouri.
Snyder’s rocky years Mizzou
Snyder resigned mid-season in February 2006 under far from harmonious circumstances. Amid a losing season and with the program under NCAA probation, he said at the time he was told he would be fired at season’s end.
That was the beginning of a stretch of five pro-level assistant coaching jobs for Snyder, including three on NBA benches.
Snyder then became the boss of a team once again when the Jazz hired him as head coach in June 2014.
Two former Missouri standouts interviewed earlier this year said they were pleased about the success Snyder achieved with six straight winning NBA seasons.
“I personally feel extremely happy for Quin,” former MU star guard Kareem Rush told the Tribune in March. “Just personally, to see him rebound from what he was going through and have success at the NBA level, definitely good to see.”
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Synder faced pressure from the start in Columbia. He coached the Tigers as Norm Stewart’s successor.
Snyder led the Tigers to NCAA Tournament bids in his first four seasons. This includes an Elite Eight appearance in 2002, after Missouri wasn’t sure it would be in the field.
His tenure ended after a three-year stretch where Snyder was mentioned 17 times in an NCAA investigation centered on recruiting violations in 2004 surrounding the recruitment of point guard Ricky Clemons. That led to a three-year probation.
It all culminated with Snyder’s resignation Feb. 10, 2006. After a 22-11 season in 2002-03, Snyder finished his time at Missouri with a 42-42 record over his final nearly three seasons.
Clarence Gilbert, captain of the 2002 Elite Eight MU team, told the Tribune in March that Snyder’s shortcomings were never that he wasn’t a competent coach.
“That was never Quin’s problem,” Gilbert said. “He always could coach.”
Snyder’s winding road to the Utah Jazz
Snyder’s road to Utah wasn’t a straight path by any means. He was the Austin Toros’ head coach from 2007-10, a Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach from 2010-11, a Los Angeles Lakers assistant from 2011-12, a CSKA Moscow assistant from 2012-13 and an Atlanta Hawks assistant from 2013-14.
In 2014, he was hired to lead the Jazz after Tyrone Corbin was fired. Ironically, Corbin was hired to replace long-time Jazz coach Jerry Sloan just as Snyder was hired to replace Stewart in 1999.
In his biggest job since coaching the Tigers, Snyder took the Jazz to the playoffs in six straight seasons from 2017 to 2022.
“To see him rebound and do things he’s doing, he’s definitely made me proud,” Rush said.
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A renaissance was complete. Snyder became a coach heralded around the NBA. Snyder’s players loved him. They reveled in the trust he placed in him.
A ‘players coach,’ Snyder resigns from coaching the Utah Jazz
Per an ESPN report, Jazz star Donovan Mitchell was “surprised and disappointed” about Snyder’s recent sudden departure.
“Love Quin. I love Quin. Love Quin,” Mitchell said after the Jazz’s first-round playoff loss to the Dallas Mavericks. “He’s a guy that gave me an opportunity when I first got here and trusted in me, believed in me. He’s a guy that I think has had so much talked about and he’s been headstrong, he’s been steady with it throughout the year.”
Snyder had been cultivating that trust since his time in Columbia.
Gilbert said Snyder taught him how to thrive as a player with one of the more impactful voices on the team.
“He would let me lead,” Gilbert said. “He would show me how to lead and he would teach me how to be better.”
The beginning of Snyder’s career as a head coach showed his promise. Prior to any recruiting violations and on-court struggles, he proved he could motivate players to take Missouri where the program wanted to go.
That skill later thrived in the NBA.
“He’s a player’s coach; you want to play for the guy,” Gilbert said. “He can make a guy want to run through a wall for him. He has that gift.”
Snyder left the Jazz saying the team “needs a new voice to continue to evolve” in the statement announcing his resignation. After his first head coaching opportunity at Missouri years ago, he had grown into a coach players and fans wanted to see stay.
That coach has years of backing from players, past and present, to testify to his ability.
“He’s a great coach,” Rush said. “Always been.”
Chris Kwiecinski is the sports editor for the Columbia Daily Tribune, overseeing University of Missouri and Boone County sports coverage. Follow him on Twitter @OchoK_ and contact him at CKwiecinsk@gannett.com or 573-815-1857.