SALT LAKE CITY — Jerry Sloan has a new award to put on his farm's fireplace mantle.
Even after his midseason resignation from the Utah Jazz, the Hall of Fame coach was honored as the inaugural winner of the Professional Basketball Writers Association's Rudy Tomjanovich Award.
This new PBWA award will annually go to the NBA coach for a combination of excellence in coaching and meeting the needs of the media.
The irony of Sloan receiving this award is that it went to a man who'd rather fix a tractor's flat tire than talk to the media (or anyone else) about receiving the accolade.
But Sloan was cherished by media members around the NBA for his folksy sense of humor and his forthright responses.
"In his 23-year career, Jerry was unfailingly good with the media and his coaching accomplishments speak for themselves," said PBWA president Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. "We're delighted to name him a unanimous winner of our first Rudy Tomjanovich Award."
According to the PBWA, the Tomjanovich award's name "honors an icon of the coaching industry and someone who understood the needs of the media and went out of his way to be helpful, respectful and accessible."
The PBWA also honored Kevin Durant and the Indiana Pacers media relations staff.
Durant received the Magic Johnson Award for combining his on-court performance and his cooperation with the media, similar to what the legendary Laker did during his Hall of Fame career.
Other finalists included: Manu Ginobili, San Antonio; Elton Brand, Philadelphia; and Derrick Rose, Chicago.
"Kevin's a uniquely skilled individual on the court," Smith said, "and his willingness to accept the media responsibilities that go with his place in the game are valued by writers who cover the league."24 comments on this story
The Pacers' media relations staff, which includes director David Benner, manager Krissy Myers and assistant Tim Edwards, won the PBWA's Brian McIntyre Award. He was a respected senior vice president of basketball communications for the NBA and currently serves as commissioner David Stern's senior communications adviser.
The PBWA is comprised of more than 150 representatives of newspapers, websites, radio and TV stations. It acts as a liaison between teams, the league and media in day-to-day interaction necessary for the media to serve its readers.