By Peter Schwartz
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This has been quite a year in the Hornacek household.
On June 2, Jeff Hornacek became the 28th head coach in Knicks history. But while the former Phoenix Suns head coach and 14-year NBA veteran guard has moved from Arizona to New York, his daughter Abby’s blossoming broadcasting career has relocated her to Chicago.
Last month, Abby Hornacek joined 120 Sports, the only digital-first video network of its kind combining real-time commentary and live footage. A rising personality in sports media, the 22-year-old former volleyball star at the University of Southern California will contribute with breaking news and as co-host of “The Rally,” the network’s new lived-streamed highlights show that airs on Twitter.
“There aren’t even words to describe how excited I am,” Abby Hornacek said. “I’m beyond thrilled to be a part of the 120 Sports family. I’m looking forward to engaging with sports fans while talking about what we all love to watch.”
Abby Hornacek graduated in May from USC with a degree in public relations and a minor in sports media. She previously has done work for Fox Sports Arizona, ESPN, Fox Sports San Diego and the NBA Summer League.
120 Sports launched a little over a year and a half ago, and offers more than 50 hours of live and original content each week, along with on-demand video clips. With equity partners such as Major League Baseball Advanced Media, the NHL, Time Inc. and Sports Illustrated, 120Sports.com is quickly becoming an important destination for sports fans.
“In the world we now live in, social media plays a monumental role in sports,” Abby Hornacek said. “The future is exciting, and I think we have a lot to look forward to.”
The fact that Abby Hornacek has carved out a sports career for herself is not surprising considering who her father is. When you think about what Jeff Hornacek has accomplished during his career in the NBA as a player and coach, it’s clear that he’s had a huge influence on his daughter’s career.
“He is a great person to emulate in my own career because of how much time and work he puts into everything he does,” Abby Hornacek said. “He always makes time to watch me on air and give me tips on what he sees. He never hesitates to help despite how busy he is.”
As far as her dad is concerned, he takes over a Knicks team that has won just 49 games over the last two seasons. Jeff Hornacek had his own struggles in Phoenix, losing 19 out of 21 games, including 14 straight road losses, during one stretch last season. After 2½ seasons on the job, Hornacek was fired in February, something that didn’t seem possible when he led the Suns to 48 wins in his first season.
Despite the way things finished in Phoenix, Abby Hornacek said she thinks her dad will do just fine in New York.
“I think the kind of person he is, is indicative of the type of coach he’ll be for the Knicks,” said the third runner-up in the 2014 Miss Arizona USA Pageant. “He has such a multifaceted basketball mind, and I’m extremely excited to see everything he can do with the team.”
Now that Abby Hornacek is an up-and-coming media star with a brand new job, she is going to have to discuss the Knicks and how her dad is doing with his new team. It’s one thing to have to talk about a team or a coach, but what if Jeff Hornacek wound up as a guest on Abby’s show?
How would she handle the interview? Would she ask the tough questions?
“I love interviewing my dad,” Abby Hornacek said. “The roles are finally reversed, and I get to ask him the questions. Regardless of who my subject is, I am going to ask the questions I need to in order to tell a story.”
Abby Hornacek will certainly be keeping an eye on the television to see how the Knicks and her dad are faring, but she’ll also get a chance to see them up close very early in the season, as the Knicks will play their fifth game of the season on Nov. 4 against the Bulls in Chicago.
I’m guessing Abby Hornacek will be in the United Center that night. But given the way her broadcasting career is taking off, she just might be interviewing her father during a timeout one day on television.
Don’t forget to follow Pete on Twitter @pschwartzcbsfan. You can also follow @abbyhornacek and @120Sports.