Utah Jazz: Tyrone Corbin has the respect of players, peers
Miles calls Corbin a players' coach, but Millsap confirms that Corbin is firm when needed. He's not a screamer, although Corbin will raise his soft and airy voice when necessary. Mostly, he coaches and teaches with a calm demeanor, instilling confidence, correcting mistakes, allowing players to play through hard times while holding guys accountable, remaining approachable, showing allegiance to veterans while giving chances to up-and-comers, and keeping an optimistic outlook that is appreciated by his impacted players.
"As a young team, you need positivity," Millsap said. "He's the leader of this team and positive is the way. He knows how to get to his players. He knows how to motivate them. Overall, he's getting better."
In interviews, Corbin will point out overall weaknesses but won't negatively call out individual players, which sometimes doesn't make for great quotes but reinforces the feeling in the locker room that the guy in charge has his players' backs.
When things went awry with Raja Bell a few weeks ago, Corbin didn't play it out in the media. He called it an "internal matter," and kept it that way. In fact, the grumpiest he's been all season — even more so than after bitter losses — was when he was peppered with questions about Bell. Not that the queries convinced him to open up about it.
Even when others doubt, Corbin expresses faith in his team's chances and his players' abilities. And he does it with conviction.
"He believed in us," veteran guard Jamaal Tinsley said. "As a group that's what you want from your coach — to believe in us."
During February's stretch of 11 losses in 15 games, when shots weren't falling, opponents weren't being stopped and the postseason seemed unattainable, Corbin talked about his team working hard, staying together, trying to improve, being on the verge of turning things around and learning.
"He just kept reminding us that we're still in it," Tinsley said. "(Told us), 'Just keep doing what you're doing and try to get better."
That's Corbin's edict for himself too.
Players notice that he is more comfortable and confident, and that he puts in enormous hours of strategizing and sweating to get this team to maximize its potential.
"He's working just as hard as we are trying to figure out how to fix things," Miles said. "He's the leader of the team."
That's why Millsap would cast a coach of the year ballot for him if he could.
"As a team, we all could've thrown in the towel a long time ago and said, 'Let's forfeit this season,' but he stayed with it, we stayed with it," Millsap said. "For him to continue to help us stay with it, stay on top of our game, yeah, he deserves it."
Even if he doesn't get that accolade — the one that eluded Sloan for 23 seasons in Utah — Corbin has two things he'd probably rather have — a strong faith in his team and respect from the players he believes in.
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