Jeff Hornacek became a head coach Tuesday, reeled in by the Phoenix Suns, the team that drafted him out of Iowa State in 1986.
He now also assumes the title of "former Jazz assistant coach," meaning in the eyes of many here in Utah, he's the one that got away.
Hornacek, 50, spent the past 2 1/2 seasons helping Utah head coach Tyrone Corbin. Long before that he spent six-plus seasons playing for the Jazz and Jerry Sloan.
Playing a perfect complement to Hall of Famers Karl Malone and John Stockton, Hornacek twice helped lead the Jazz to the NBA Finals during the late 1990s. And because he did, he'll never again have to pay for a root beer when he's in Salt Lake City.
Then again, it seems Hornacek -- affectionately known as "Horny" by fans, former teammates and, of course, broadcasters -- seems to be well thought of everywhere he goes.
They love him here in Utah and judging by the excitement surrounding Tuesday's introductory press conference, they love him in Phoenix, too. See, Hornacek spent the first six seasons of his NBA career with the Suns and he became wildly popular there.
There seems to be something charming about the sad-eyed sharp-shooter, whose ability to make long jumpshots, coupled with a Midwestern toughness, was inherently likable.
On the other hand, who doesn't appreciate a good supporting actor who can deliver a timely line and exit stage left without tripping on a rug?
To this point in his career, Hornacek has been exactly that. Not a working-for-scale schmuck milling around in the background, mind you, but a strong supporting player with the talent to contribute.
He was that way as a player and later as an assistant coach, boosting the confidence of some really good young players before games and after practices.
And because he was such an endearing player himself, he always got the benefit of the doubt from fans and media types who found it easier to cast blame in other directions.
It remains to be seen whether that good will continues now that he's a head coach, but I've got my doubts.
And that's the point, I suppose.
Like backup quarterbacks and sideline reporters, assistant coaches are always popular with the fans. But the spotlight shines a little brighter on the leading men whose names are on the marquee.
A few years ago, after Sloan resigned, there was some talk of Hornacek becoming Utah's head coach. He and Corbin -- already a Jazz assistant at the time -- had been interviewed by other teams and were considered surefire candidates around the league.
The Jazz wasted no time in promoting Corbin, who in turn made Hornacek his assistant.
Two and a half years later, Corbin's honeymoon is over and Hornacek's is just beginning. His old team stayed in the playoff chase until the final game of the regular season; his new team finished last in the Western Conference.
But don't misunderstand. This is neither an indictment nor an endorsement of either coach.
Instead, it's just a statement of fact. We in the media and you in the stands (and on the sofas, message boards and the call-in shows) love to hitch our wagons to the other guy.
That's what we do in sports and if coaches like Sloan, Corbin and Hornacek don't know that before they start, they learn it quickly.
Given injuries, lockouts and other weird circumstances, there's really nothing to say the Jazz would be in any better position today with Hornacek as their head coach and Corbin still serving as assistant.
Just imagine if that had happened. If it had, we might well be saluting new Suns head coach Tyrone Corbin today ... and wondering if good ol' Jeff Hornacek really had the chops to stand in the spotlight.