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Jeff Hornacek hustled my sorry ass in ping-pong

Kirk Henderson

Daryl Morey's Table Tennis Tournament for St. Jude's is a longstanding tradition of the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. Bloggers Who Can't Comfortably Afford The $100 Buy-In Lingering At This Event Until Morey Himself Ponies Up The Cash For Us To Enter The Tournament Then Rushing To The Sign-Up Sheet When He Does So is another new tradition. Morey pays for us all to play, whoops all of us, then celebrates with blaring music and pyrotechnics.

And that's how I ended up getting my sorry ass hustled by Jeff Hornacek.

The Rockets general manager's tournament always ends with some combination of him, Hornets GM Rich Cho and a couple less famous ping-pong mavens battling for the title. Before that, the rest of us just hope to last a round or two, often against someone we've seen on TV. This year's tournament included Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Markel Brown of the Brooklyn Nets, Pelicans GM Dell Demps and some other league executive-types.

And in my corner of the draw: Hornacek, a legend of the Suns, 76ers, and Jazz and Phoenix's current head coach.


After rolling over a lucky first-round matchup, it was time for me vs. Hornacek. I was a little nervous. Hornacek could not have cared less. I realized halfway through our warm-up that he was taking most of the rallies with his left hand. I screamed "I KNOW YOU'RE A RIGHTY I WATCHED YOU BURY THREES FOR LIKE 10 YEARS" across the table, but he just smirked and pretended he didn't hear me. Before I could settle my second-guessing of my own childhood memories, the actual games had begun and I was getting worked.

I'm not very good. Only on replay do I realize how casually Hornacek beat me, although I'm happy to report I got eight points in the first game and won both points that got Vined:

I don't think Hornacek ever felt threatened. He used to battle Michael Jordan, so I get it. I don't think he even noticed when I rubbed my cheek before serving to taunt him.

I dropped the second game with just two or three points to my name. Hornacek went on to get eliminated by NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum, but not before offering an assessment of our match:

He's lying.

I also asked Hornacek about playing lefty, and he explained with a shrug that he's "more of a defensive player" with his off hand. He's a troll is what he is. Hornacek possesses the hand-eye coordination of one of the greatest shooters in human history, and he utilized some tiny percentage of it to crush me. Professional athletes are good at sports. I want a rematch.

(Postscript: Brian Shapiro, a radio host here in Vegas, beat Rich Cho in the semifinal, then took Morey in the final.)