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.
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