Utah Jazz: Jerry Sloan's banner gets a significant number
Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — It's been joked about, but there won't be a tractor or John Deere logo on the banner that will be raised into the EnergySolutions Arena rafter in honor of Jerry Sloan.
Instead, the Jazz are having the number "1223" embroidered onto the banner, which will be unveiled Friday night during a halftime ceremony to celebrate the career of the Hall of Fame coach.
That is how many victories Sloan earned during the regular season (1,127) and playoffs (96) during his tenure as head coach of the Jazz from 1988 through 2011.
"Incorporating both his regular season and playoff victories, the number 1223 was selected to embody all of Jerry’s accomplishments and his countless contributions to the Jazz franchise and state of Utah," Jazz president Randy Rigby said in a press release statement.
"This banner will serve as a symbol of the enduring legacy of Jerry Sloan, one of the greatest coaches in NBA history and forever a member of the Jazz family."
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin, Sloan’s predecessor who entered Monday’s game with 102 wins, agreed that it’s mind-boggling to think about how many victories Sloan racked up in his time with the Jazz. Corbin’s old boss remains the only NBA coach to win 1,000 games with one franchise.
“It’s a lot of work, man. It’s a great accomplishment for him,” Corbin said.
Corbin cracked a joke when asked about the number going on the banner.
“I don’t know how the number would be looking on the jersey with that many numbers on it,” he said. “Maybe we’ll start a new trend. Maybe we should go to four-number jerseys now.”
If they do, nobody will get No. 1,223.
Sloan will join 10 other significant members of the organization's 40-year history in being honored with a banner. That group includes: Frank Layden (1), Adrian Dantley (4), Pete Maravich (7), Larry H. Miller (9), John Stockton (12), Jeff Hornacek (14), Karl Malone (32), Darrell Griffith (35), Mark Eaton (53) and former play-by-play announcer Hot Rod Hundley (3051).
The 2009 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee rejoined the organization this past offseason after his surprising midseason resignation almost three years ago (Feb. 8, 2011). During his coaching career, Sloan took the Jazz to two NBA Finals (1997, '98), racked up 13 50-win seasons, won seven division titles and made it to the playoffs 19 times.
Former players, coaches and other members of the Jazz past are expected to be in attendance Friday for the ceremony, which will take place during that night's ESPN-televised game (8:30 tipoff).
“Coach is a tremendous guy to watch and understand and learn from,” Corbin said. “I’ve respected his work as a player, respected his work as one of his coaches on the staff.”
Sloan has been part of the Jazz organization in various capacities for 30 different seasons, dating back to 1983-84 when he joined the team as a scout. In 1984, Sloan was hired as an assistant to Frank Layden, whom he later replaced as head coach in 1988.
Known for being a hard-nosed, gruff leader with a relentless work ethic, Sloan finished his coaching career ranked third for most wins in NBA history (1,221-803) when including his 1979-82 stint with the Chicago Bulls. His 23-year tenure — and 1,809 games — with the Jazz was longer than any other coach in the league's history.
Sloan had his No. 4 jersey retired by the Bulls after playing 11 NBA seasons and being dubbed "The Original Bull."
A 30-minute "Coaching Legend Jerry Sloan" broadcast will air on KJZZ 14 on Tuesday at 8 p.m.
So, does Corbin catch himself saying “Sloanisms” on occasion?
“I’ve been thinking a lot of it. If I can say it like him, I don’t know,” Corbin said. “He had a way with his words. That’s one of the great things about him — he could put some words together to get your attention as a player, and you got it real quick.”
The current coach laughed when the old Sloan standby phrase “jackpotting around” was brought up.
"You guys heard 'jackpotting,'” he said. “We heard something else."
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