Jazz honor longtime coach Jerry Sloan

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 31, 2014 at 8:58 pm •  Published: January 31, 2014
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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — When Jerry Sloan was the head coach of the Utah Jazz, no one ever doubted who was in charge.

"We all knew who was running the show. We respected him because he was the same every day. He was tough but he was fair," said Karl Malone, who was a mainstay of Jazz teams that reached the playoffs 16 consecutive seasons.

The Jazz was set to honor the Hall of Fame coach Friday night at halftime of their game against the Golden State Warriors by raising a banner featuring the number "1223," which represents Sloan wins, regular season (1127) and playoff (96), in his 23 years with the Jazz from 1988-2011.

Sloan was a model of consistently as coach, often calling the same play over and over for Malone and John Stockton and daring the other team to stop their effective pick-and-roll.

"I've been blessed. I really felt like I was the luckiest guy in the world to be able to coach two guys (Stockton and Malone) that were willing to pay the price and played hard every day," said Sloan, who is currently a senior basketball adviser in his 30th season with the Jazz organization.

He abruptly resigned on February 10, 2011, after taking a new generation of Jazz players, led by Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer, to the Western Conference Finals after Malone and Stockton retired.

Asked if he had any regrets at a press conference Friday, Sloan joked, "The only thing I can think of is maybe calling a different play against Chicago coming down the stretch."

Michael Jordan and the Bulls beat the Jazz in the 1997 and '98 NBA Finals, denying Sloan a championship.

Sloan was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 and finished his career with a 1221-803 overall record, which marks the third most wins in NBA history.

Though he wasn't regarded as a tactical guru, Sloan had an uncanny feel for the game and he demanded respect. He didn't hesitate to discipline a player — even his stars — or demonstrate his displeasure with a string of choice curse words, but he never put the blame of a loss on anyone but himself.