Utah Jazz: Sloan may be headed to the Hall

Published: Monday, Dec. 8 2008 12:06 a.m. MST

Jerry Sloan talks to the press after his 1,000th win with Utah.

Mike Terry, Deseret News

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Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and point-guard great John Stockton have been nominated for the Basketball Hall of Fame by the Utah Jazz.

Turns out, they're not the only ones who will be considered near no-brainers to make the Class of 2009 on their first go-round.

The class they could and should join will be a star-studded one.

At the head of the class — and the whole Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, really — will be a guy who ripped the Jazz's hearts out a couple of times, namely one Michael Jordan.

Another longtime Jazz nemesis, David Robinson, also has been nominated, according to a report in the Sacramento Bee.

Those four, NBA writer Scott Howard-Cooper claims in his blog, are first-ballot candidates who are expected "to gain easy entrance into the Hall of Fame."

The players are "automatics," the writer claims. The path for Sloan, who has been negotiating a contract extension with Utah since September, isn't quite so clear cut. That's because, Howard-Cooper points out, other coaching greats such as Don Nelson still haven't been granted immortality in Springfield, Mass. Nelson is second on the NBA's all-time coaching wins list; Sloan is fourth.

What could help Sloan, though, is the fact he recently became the first NBA coach

to win 1,000 games with one franchise and that he'll celebrate his 20th anniversary as Utah's head honcho on Tuesday when the Jazz play in Minnesota.

"I'm not interested in that at all," Sloan said this past weekend. "It's not something I talk about."

Sloan was grumbling about talking about the Hall of Fame, but he feels the same about the fuss people make over his recent millennium win milestone and his two-decade-tenure with the Jazz.

Sloan does adamantly believe Stockton — the NBA's all-time leader in assists and steals — deserves to be enshrined.

He feels the same about another nominated candidate. It's possible Sloan could be inducted into the Hall of Fame along with his coaching mentor and Utah native, Dick Motta.

"Dick Motta, I'd be happy for him — because he certainly deserves it," Sloan said. "He's been a coach at every level. He's won a championship in this league."

Motta also gained a whole lot of respect from Sloan, who played for the former Weber State coach with the Chicago Bulls.

Many Jazz fans might recall Motta as being the first coach of the Dallas Mavericks, who went 55-27 under his guidance in 1986-87. In all, Motta coached in the NBA for 25 years and ranks ninth on the all-time wins list with 935. He was named the 1971 NBA coach of the year and he won a title with the Washington Bullets in 1978.

But because Motta also has 1,017 losses during his career that included stops in Sacramento and Denver as well, Sloan wonders if his old Midvale-born coach will ever get the credit he's due. Sloan believes Motta's record would've been much better had he not taken on tough tasks, including with expansion teams.

"His record's not as great as a lot of people would have," Sloan said, "but he was a teacher."

"The guys that don't like to work might have had trouble playing for him," he added, "but I thought he came into our league and he was way ahead of anybody that coached as far as executing and trying to run an offense." Sloan also thought Motta extracted results out of players who didn't ooze with talent, kinda like himself.

"I thought he did a terrific job with a bunch of guys that weren't really that talented," Sloan said, recalling his Bulls days. "He got a lot out of us."

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