End of an era: Jazz coach Jerry Sloan ends 23-year run
Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The moment didn't include Jerry Sloan hopping onto a John Deere tractor and driving off into the sunset, as some might have imagined.
But the 68-year-old made it official Thursday afternoon in an emotional press conference: His era as the Utah Jazz's head coach is over.
Twenty-two-plus years, 1,127 wins, two NBA Finals trips, seven division championships, countless pick-and-rolls and choice words for referees, and one Hall of Fame induction later.
"It just seemed like this was the time to do it," Sloan said.
That was also the case for his longtime assistant Phil Johnson, who had been at Sloan's side since December 1988 after Frank Layden stepped down from his coaching position.
"I came with him," Johnson said, "and I'll leave with him."
After the door on that Sloan-Johnson legacy closed, the Jazz announced that the Tyrone Corbin Era had begun.
The former Jazz player, who coached under Sloan for the past seven years after a 16-year NBA career, was hired Thursday as the team's head coach, with no interim tag attached.
"We are confident in Ty's leadership, his character and his hard work," Jazz president Randy Rigby said, "and that it will continue to enrich a rich legacy of the Utah Jazz."
Corbin has some awfully big shoes to fill.
Sloan leaves behind him a legacy of unusual stability and loyalty, of a relentless blue-collar work ethic and a high level of success that has kept the Jazz among the upper-echelon in the NBA for decades despite being in a small market.
En route to being enshrined into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, Sloan became the first coach in NBA history to eclipse the 1,000-win mark with one franchise.
He'd outlasted 245 coaching changes since being hired as the head coach in Utah on Dec. 9, 1988. He also finished his career as the third-winningest coach in NBA history.
Sloan's Jazz teams over the years made the postseason 19 times, won 50-plus games in 13 seasons and often set a standard of excellence in execution thanks to his success with star players such as John Stockton, Karl Malone, Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer.
"I have nothing but admiration for the way that you've coached this franchise," Jazz owner Gail Miller said.
Though reports claimed his decision came because of power clashes with Williams, Sloan pointed to his dipping energy level as the main reason.
He admitted recently reacquiring a feeling similar to the one he had when he got fired as the Chicago Bulls' coach in 1982.
"I have a feeling," Sloan said, "it's time for me to move on."
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