SALT LAKE CITY — When Tyrone Corbin was hired to be Jerry Sloan's successor in February, the new Utah Jazz coach received a congratulatory phone call from an old friend.
About two months later, the same buddy — whom he played alongside two decades ago — dialed Corbin's digits for a much different reason.
"Now," Sidney Lowe told Corbin in that second conversation, "I'm calling for a job."
Any extra-minute fees or roaming charges incurred back then proved to be well worth it.
Lowe, Corbin's teammate in 1989-90 during Minnesota's inaugural season, was introduced Thursday as the Jazz's third assistant coach.
It took half of a year for Lowe's job-seeking call to result in an offer, but the two-time NBA head coach and his new boss couldn't be happier that the feeler chat led to them being on the same team again.
"I always respected him (Corbin) since we played together — class guy, great work ethic," Lowe said. "I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to again get with a great organization and also work with an old friend."
Lowe has been all over the basketball map since he was a point guard occasionally dishing the ball to the Milk Man in Minnesota.
Following a short stint as the head coach (at age 32) of the T-Wolves for a season and a half from 1992-94, Lowe has spent time on the sidelines as an assistant at Cleveland, Minnesota and Detroit. He had a second shot as an NBA head coach with Vancouver (2000-02), and most recently spent five seasons as the bench boss at his alma mater, North Carolina State.
Lowe, who was Thurl Bailey's teammate on the Wolfpacks' Jim Valvano-coached national championship team in 1983, stepped down as the NC State coach this past March. That move made him available for a friendship reunion and a return to the NBA.
"I got a good one," Corbin said, smiling.
Not surprisingly, Corbin admitted Lowe was not the only one interested in becoming the unusually stable Jazz's eighth assistant coach since 1988.
"I was getting a ton of calls," Corbin said.
Eventually, though, he narrowed down his list of candidates — not an easy task for him, mind you — and felt comfortable choosing someone he considers "loyal" and a "hard-working guy."
"He's going to come in and give you a hard day's work every day," Corbin said. "He's going to help us develop with his experience on the floor, with his experience on the sideline as a coach the last 18 years."
Corbin couldn't name players because of lockout restrictions, but he believes Lowe can help himself and assistants Scott Layden and Jeff Hornacek with the progress and maturation of the Jazz's youngsters — guys like NBA newcomers Alec Burks and Enes Kanter and second-year returnees Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Jeremy Evans.
"I think," Corbin added, "with the youth that we have on this team, he'll do a tremendous job of being able to communicate with these guys, feeling out where they are and (knowing) how to communicate with them so they can get past all of the other stuff and get to work on the floor."
Lowe, who said he turned down other coaching opportunities for this one, can't wait.
"It's just a solid organization," Lowe said. "I think I'm kind of a low-keyed guy. I just want to come in and get my work done, and that's the way I see this organization — (they) just want to get in and get the work done."
That concept — just working and focusing on basketball — has Lowe excited to be back in the NBA, where he also played for four seasons and with five teams after being drafted by Chicago in 1983.
"I've coached 15 years in the NBA. The great thing about this is it's pure basketball," Lowe said. "You get in early in the morning and you're thinking about basketball and when you leave at night you're thinking about basketball."
And a different kind of homework.
"In college, which was a great experience and a great opportunity for me, you had to think about a few more things," Lowe added. "You had to think about study hall. You had to think about who's going to class. And then when you went to bed at night you hoped that you didn't get a phone call at 1 o'clock in the morning. You're dealing with grown men now. It's just pure basketball, and that's what I like."20 comments on this story
Well, that and non-middle-of-the-night phone calls with old friends.
The Lowe down
New Utah Jazz assistant coach
Two-time NBA head coach (T-Wolves, Grizzlies)
18 years coaching experience in NBA/NCAA
Standout PG on NC State's 1983 NCAA title team (with Thurl Bailey)
Wolfpack head coach from 2006-11
Drafted by Chicago in 1983 (25th overall)
Played four seasons in NBA with five teams
Ty Corbin's teammate at Minnesota (1989-90)
51 years old; Grew up in Maryland; Has bachelor's degree in business administration
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