Keith Johnson, Deseret News
The Jerry Sloan Era will continue for at least one more season in Utah.
On Wednesday, the longtime Jazz coach agreed to a one-year contract extension with Utah. The deal will keep Sloan with the club through the end of the 2010-11 NBA season.
"It's the same as it's always been the last few years," said Sloan, who has signed three consecutive one-year extensions. "It's just a year-to-year thing."
Sloan, the longest-tenured coach or manager in America's four major sports leagues, is in his 22nd season as head coach in Utah. He has coached the Jazz to a 1,053-637 record — becoming the only NBA coach to win 1,000 games with one franchise — since taking the reins from Frank Layden on Dec. 9, 1988.
The NBA's fourth-winningest coach was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September, an enshrinement honoring a coaching career that includes two NBA Finals appearances, 12 50-win seasons and 18 playoff appearances with Utah.
"We have been fortunate to call Jerry Sloan our head coach for two-plus decades," Jazz CEO Greg Miller said in a news release Wednesday night. "He embodies everything our organization stands for, which makes him the perfect fit to lead our roster into the future."
Speaking of the future, Sloan is hesitant to predict how long he'll continue to call the shots for the Jazz.
"I can speculate and talk about it and think about it, but I don't know," Sloan said. "I might wake up tomorrow and it's all over. That's just the way it is. I've told them that, and they're aware of that. I'm not looking at having that happen, but I have to be fair with them because they've been fair to me."
The stability in Utah is certainly a rarity in these times when sports bosses often have quick-firing triggers. Not only has Sloan outlasted all other major pro sports coaches, but the NBA has seen 236 coaching changes during his lengthy tenure. Every other team in the league, in fact, has swapped coaches at least twice since he settled into the position.
"The consistency of the Jazz under Coach Sloan's direction is unparalleled in the NBA," Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said. "We are certainly excited that he will continue to guide the team moving forward."
So, too, is Sloan, even if the Energizer Bunny of the sidelines isn't sure how long he will continue coaching.
"I don't feel like I can keep going and going," Sloan said. "I know I don't have that many years left, if I have any at all."
Though Sloan says he enjoys the people he works with and watching players play and progress — "All those things are fun to be a part of," he said — the 67-year-old coach admitted that he pondered retirement this past offseason.
"Honestly, I had a few reservations about coming back after my knee surgery," he said. "But I bounced back good from that. So I feel pretty good about that."
It helps that Sloan likes his team and his current group of players, who are among the 125 different guys to wear a Jazz uniform during his reign. Following a rough start, Utah has improved to 10-7 with wins in three straight and six out of seven games.
"I've enjoyed coaching them. I work with a great group of guys, and the coaching staff has been terrific to work with," Sloan said. "I think this can be a good ball team if a few breaks come our way and we stay with it.
"Hopefully," Sloan added, "there's not many distractions. I don't (think) any team can go through a season without a few distractions, but I'm anxious to see where we end up."
Another thing Sloan enjoys watching is how his team responds to adversity.
"(It is) never fun to lose, but how do we fight back from it? That's what I like to see," Sloan said. "Quite frankly we had a tough time at the end of the year last year, but we've fought through a lot. ... I feel very confident we're still doing a decent job trying to hang in there.
"We had a few stumbles last year," he continued. "But the important thing is just to move forward, and the fact I have great people to work with. I'm not looking to be a problem to anybody."
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