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Wesley Ruff - The day Hornacek choked...me!!

My memories of Jeff Hornacek include the time he choked me at practice.
Jeff Hornacek is one of my all-time favorite athletes. I have always said that if everyone in sports was like Hornacek, we would never have any problems. I hate to see him leave the Jazz and go to Phoenix as the new head coach of the Suns, but it's a great opportunity for him and I wish him the best.

One of my favorite moments with Jeff came in the 1997 1st round playoffs. The Jazz were playing the Clippers, and Utah was up 2 games to none, but Hornacek was struggling. He had made just 5 of his 18 shots in the first 2 games. Game 3 was in L.A., and at the shootaround that morning, I asked Hornacek about his shooting slump. I apparently touched a nerve, because he just glared at me, then jokingly reached over and started choking me. It was all caught on camera, and I joked about using that in a lawsuit against him.

Well, 2 things happened after that. For some reason I lost my voice. I don't know why or how, but I did. I sounded awful. I could barely talk by game time. And secondly, Hornacek snapped out of his slump that night. He hit his first 7 shots from the field, and ended up making 9 of 12 for the game. He led the team in scoring with 27 points, as the Jazz swept the Clippers in 3 straight.

Afterwards, I was in the locker room, and asked Hornacek about his good game. But my voice was so bad he could barely understand me. He got a funny look on his face and asked, "Did I choke you that hard this morning?". I laughingly said he did, and that was why my voice was shot. Then I asked him if that was going to be his pre-game ritual every game,- choke me, then go out and shoot lights out. He said he would love to do it if he could shoot like that every night.

Frankly, I think he would have loved to it even if he didn't have a game! We had a good laugh about it, and I turned it into a story, tagging out my report by saying, "In Los Angeles, this is Wesley "I'll do anything to help the team" Ruff, ABC 4 Sports."
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