One day, he signed a contract extension.
Hours later, he resigned.
Longtime Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan no longer will pace the sidelines after calling it a career Thursday. The news shocked the NBA world and could greatly alter one of the league’s pillar franchise.
Sloan has been on the Jazz bench since 1988. He compiled 1,221 wins, third most in NBA history, and had 10 seasons of at least 50 wins. In Utah, Sloan won six division championships and led the Jazz to two NBA Finals appearances. In 2009, Sloan was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Sloan will be missed by many.
In today’s question of the day, we ask our panel what their reaction was to Sloan stepping down.
I was shocked hearing the news, then sad watching the press conference. Seeing everyone crying during the announcement, you realized that this wasn’t what anyone wanted but what Sloan felt was necessary. He deserved to go out in a better way, to be cheered at other arenas, to be celebrated at home by one of the most loyal fan bases in the NBA. To leave the Jazz so unceremoniously on a random Thursday afternoon, that just isn’t right. The Hall of Famer earned a better exit, a grander departure. Sadly, he didn’t get it.
I was stunned, but we shouldn’t have been surprised. Like the Jazz owner said Thursday, all good things must end. Bobby Cox stepped down from the Atlanta Braves last autumn. The Titans jettisoned Jeff Fisher last month. So it shouldn’t come as a shock that Sloan is leaving the Jazz. He stayed ahead of the posse for 23 years, and while Utah provided a supportive working environment that is rare in the NBA, the fact remains that it’s a player’s league. If LeBron doesn’t want Erik Spoelstra, Spoelstra is out. If Kevin Durant doesn’t want Scotty Brooks, Brooks is out. If Deron Williams doesn’t want Jerry Sloan, Sloan is out. Sloan avoided mutiny for almost a quarter century, but the law of the NBA jungle stretches even to Salt Lake City. All good things must end.
Utah players shoved a Hall of Fame coach out the door and into the cold. Jerry Sloan is 68 years old and tired of shoving back, surrendering to point guard Deron Williams and those who think they know better than a man with 1,221 career victories. Twenty years earlier, a younger, feistier Sloan had flare-ups with players like Karl Malone and fought back, but enough is enough. Sloan deserved a far better exit, but locker-room fights are never pretty. Williams won this shoving match, and the evil inside me predicts it will end up making losers of all that Jazz.
I knew something wasn’t right in Utah. But never did I think it would end with Jerry Sloan leaving. Sloan is the Utah Jazz. Has been for 22 years. News of his resignation didn’t seem real Thursday. And the reports that trickled out throughout the day left a bad taste. Hopefully there was no mutiny in Utah. Hopefully Deron Williams didn’t think so much of himself that he couldn’t coexist with one of the most brilliant basketball minds the game has ever known. Sloan has done more for that franchise than any one player has ever done and probably will ever do. The way it ended is a shame. It’s a sad day for NBA fans.
DAVID STERN (in a statement released by the NBA)
Few people have epitomized all the positives of team sports more than Jerry Sloan. A basketball lifer, Jerry was as relentless in his will to win on the sidelines for the Utah Jazz as he was as an All-Star guard for the Chicago Bulls. In over two decades as a coach, he taught his players that nothing was more important than the team. His most impressive qualities were his leadership and his extraordinary ability to encourage his players to subjugate their individual games for the benefit of the whole. Two trips to The Finals and over 1,200 regular-season victories more than validate his philosophy. Jerry moves on having established himself as one of the greatest and most respected coaches in NBA history. I and the rest of the NBA family wish him great success and happiness as he moves to the next chapter of his life.