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Goodbye, Jerry Sloan.

February 11, 2011

Last night, Jerry Sloan, the longest tenured coach of any of  the four major sports in history, resigned from his head coaching position for the Utah Jazz. To be honest, I’m still in shock just a little bit from the news. This guy coached the Jazz for close to 23 years, almost the amount of time I’ve been alive.  Before that, he was actually with the Chicago Bulls as a coach and even played with the Bulls for about ten years prior to that.

Needless to say, this guy has been around the league for quite some time. I may still not know very much about basketball but shit, I do know Jerry Sloan. Even when I was younger and didn’t really care for basketball, I knew his name, knew he’d been around forever. He was a staple on the sidelines, when countless other NBA teams went through coaching change after coaching change.

To me, he represents the old-school, tough mentality of basketball: cut the crap, no bullshit, you come to play or get the fuck out. And I appreciate that about him. You could maybe say I’ve got a soft spot for him since he’s originally from Illinois and still comes back here every off season to work on his farm. Love that. He never seemed to let the glitz and the glamour of the NBA get to him. He just kept doing his job and for the most part, kept on winning.

He may have never won a NBA championship or Coach of the Year but that doesn’t diminish his legacy one bit. He’s Jerry fucking Sloan for chrissakes. It is a little strange that he would decide to leave mid-season but it probably meant that, for him, it was time. I found it appropriate that his last game as head coach of the Jazz was against the Chicago Bulls, his former team and the team that knocked the Jazz out of the two times they made it to the NBA finals [both times courtesy of MJ’s Bulls]. Unrelated but somewhat related: this is the second coach to have been fired/resigned after playing the Bulls this year. Coincidence? Hmmmm.

Jazz assistant Tyrone Corbin will take Sloan’s place as head coach and, well, the best of luck to him. Jerry Sloan will be a hard act to follow.

Below are quotes from various news outlets around the web after the internet exploded with news of Sloan’s departure:

Via Nando Di Fino at the Wall Street Journal:

“The way the game has changed and the way the game has become a celebrity thing, an Internet thing and a gossip thing,” [George] Karl told the Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla, “there’s a lot of things that kind of make you don’t love the game as much as the old days.”

Via Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo! Sports:

Everyone starts with the inmates-run-the-asylum hysteria now, but the players aren’t prisoners, the coaches aren’t wardens and the relationships between Sloan and his stars have always been complex. Sloan never changed, but the times did. Players are different now. Maybe he isn’t, but coaches and general managers are different too. Values have changed. Blame the players all you want, but there’s as much petulance and selfishness in the coaching profession as there is in the players.

Via Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don’t Lie:

If it was the last call for Sloan, it was telling. A fight to the end, a row after the contest, with the two teams that meant the most to him playing a guard-driven duel down to the final buzzer. Though we’re surprised to see Sloan retire mid-season, if there ever was a way to go out (save for following a trip to the championship podium), this was it.

Via Brian T. Smith at The Salt Lake Tribune:

“When it was all said and done, it was just a matter of me deciding it was time for me to leave,” Sloan said. “Not make a big deal out of that. I try not to make a big deal out of most things, anyway.”


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