Uncomfortable Exit

Longtime Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan is finally calling it quits.  I should feel happy for Sloan for having such a successful NBA career and being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, but I don’t.  I can’t help but feel bad for the guy.  Why would I feel bad for a coach who has only 3 others ahead of him on the all-time wins list?  Feel bad for the longest tenured coach in professional sports, in a culture where coaches change faster than a facebook status?  Because Jerry Sloan never accomplished his ultimate goal.  Obviously not every coach or player gets to retire having been crowned a champion in their respective sport, that’s the very nature of competition.  Not everybody wins.  However, for a stand up guy like Sloan who has done all the right things for so long, it’s impossible for me not to feel some remorse on his behalf.   The sad thing is that there’s ultimately only one person to blame.  Michael Jordan.  In 1997 the Jazz won 64 games only to lose in game 6 of the Finals to the Bulls.  The following year (1998) was probably the best chance the Jazz had to win the ‘chip’.  It was Jordans last year in Chicago, the Jazz won 62 games, and Karl Malone was named MVP of the league.  Again the Bulls hung another banner at the expense of Jerry Sloan and the Jazz after game 6’s back-breaking Jordan jumper as time was winding down.  If Sloan could have captured one of those titles, we would likely hold him in highest regard in all of coaching history.  He’d have a championship to match his 1,000+ NBA victories.  Look at how many Hall of Fame coaches and players were left without hardware thanks to MJ and the Bulls (Ewing, Stockton, Malone, Gary Payton, Barkley, George Karl to name a few).  But should we hold it against Jerry Sloan for never ‘getting it done’?  I personally don’t think so, but I feel like I unconsciously do so anyway.  What’s worse than retiring with unfinished business is retiring mid-season after a dust up with your star gaurd and the team GM.   At the time I write this, there’s no details about the ‘incident’ that occurred with Kevin O’Conner other than that there was one.  In the end I hope Jerry Sloan is at peace with his decision to leave Utah.  Realistically this wasn’t the season Sloan’s Jazz would break through to win a NBA title anyhow.  Sloan is the second Hall of Fame coach to retire mid-season after Larry Brown left the Bobcats last month.  Instead of highlighting what Sloan didn’t do, we should remember him for all his wins, great players, finals appearances, consistency, and  longevity.  But we all know it’s trickier than that..


P.S.  For the great run Sloan had as a coach, he was a great player as well.  Ironically enough, Jerry played for the Chicago Bulls and made the All Star team on two different occasions.  He was also named  ‘First Team All NBA Defense’ four different times, and ‘Second Team’ twice.  Not only that, but Jerry Sloan was the first player in the History of the Chicago Bulls to have his jersey retired.  


5 Responses to Uncomfortable Exit

  1. James (not walker) says:

    ESPN is reporting Sloan basically said its him or me (DWILL) and the team chose the PG.

  2. JB says:

    James are you on crack? This guy is one of the most respected coaches in all of sports. 3rd in wins and like Byesline said he would have a ring (probably) if it weren’t for the GOAT meeting him in the Finals. You’re a joke man. Sloan has taken his team to the playoffs most years and look at this year! This team was supposed to be at the bottom with the loss of boozer, matthews and korver and they’re still gonna be in the playoffs.

  3. James Walker says:

    Sloan is overrated. 2 finals appearances in that many years no titles and the dude is good for “laker first round warmups” nowadays. Good riddance to tha ol’ geezer.

    • Johnny F. says:

      U obviously dnt know much about pro sports James. theres so many teams in the league and to come out from tjhose teams and win tough playoff games and series its extreemly hard..plus to never get fired for 23 seasons, theres a reason he was there that long

  4. Evan Lane says:

    I do feel bad for Sloan retiring like this like byesline says. However not for the same reason. I think Sloan’s life experiences put him in a position to understand that the fact that he never got a ring isn’t necessarily a failure. I just read an article that talks about how in 1977 after is career as a player he took a job as the head coach of his college alma mater but then changed his mind right before the season. That entire team and coaching staff died in a plane crash later that season. Also, is wife died of breast cancer in 2004. I think adversities like this puts life in perspective and that Sloan knows how lucky and successful he has been despite the elusive ring.

    What makes me sad about this whole situation is that he has been put in a position to retire midseason in this fashion. To me, Sloan has always stood as a symbol that some of the old time values this country stands for still exist and can preside over the petty business tactics we have all become accustomed to. A symbol that some businesses still have loyalty to character and effort. And now, that symbol, feels like he needs to retire before he is forced out in order to keep Deron Williams as a free agent in 2012. Williams has expressed his discontent with Sloan and i think Sloan understood that the front office was going to put their stock in Williams and try to keep him happy.

    In pro sports the front office has an obligation to make money and the coaches and players have an obligation to win. This difference in agenda has led to an ongoing battle between management and the coaches and players. In my opinion Sloan retiring in this manner is a major loss to the coaches and players in the struggle of winning. Today is a sad day for the NBA in that sense. However life will go on…as Sloan very well knows

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