SALT LAKE CITY — It was a living, breathing coach, rather than a monument. A new sketch pad compared to ancient writ. Ty Corbin's first day as head coach of the Utah Jazz was a contrast, at least in style.
The end result?
Not so different.
The Jazz have now lost two straight, three of four and 11 of 15.
In some ways it was the same stuff, different day. Still, nobody swore at the refs, drew a coaching technical or glared at Deron Williams. Nobody mentioned cows, farm feed or crop prices in the interviews, either. So the new era was definitely on.
Could it have gone better for Corbin than a 9-0 start in his first game? Yes. A 9-0 finish would have helped. The Jazz scored just 27 points in the second half, en route to a 95-83 loss to Phoenix.
So Corbin remains 1,221 victories and 23 years behind Jerry Sloan.
"Whew!" the new Jazz head coach said in a low whistle as he met with the media after the game. "We ran out of gas."
Sloan was a coach, first and foremost. But he was also a walking history book. Corbin? He's a guy trying to impress his boss, first day after his promotion.
"I'm a little bit nervous," Corbin said before the game.
Just 8,088 days and he'll match Sloan's mark for longevity.
"I told (Sloan), 'I don't care where you go, keep the phone on,' " Corbin added.
What's his number, 911?
If you're having trouble visualizing Corbin, he's been low key throughout his seven years as a Sloan understudy. He was the polite, well-dressed guy in the background.
Sloan was the godfather, the monarch. Corbin was the prince in waiting. His first day on the job did indeed have a new look. He didn't walk knock-kneed to the huddle or talk afterward about "giving yourself a chance to win."
He sounded more like, well, himself.
"We've got to get back to the business of where we are, as soon as we can. It's an adjustment for everybody," Corbin said. "I'm going to miss Coach (Sloan), we're all going to miss Coach. (But) I'm a different guy."
Afterward he admitted "our effort just wasn't the same as the first half" when the Jazz lead rose to 15.
Early, it looked like the Jazz had indeed gained a new life. They were active and enthused. Williams looked happy and energized and wasn't even wearing tape on his perpetually sore wrist. Andrei Kirilenko was looking a lot like he did back in his All-Star days — right up until he limped off with a sprained ankle near the end of the half.
For his part, Corbin came out looking sharp and ready in a dark suit and matching purple tie and shirt. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.
Then came the second half, when the Jazz neither shot nor defended well.
Corbin has admitted he feels the weight of following Sloan, who was as safe as savings bonds, having produced just one losing season. He didn't always post big profits, but there was always a return. Now Corbin inherits a team on a dangerous slide, with a D-Willful superstar to placate. He has a raw but undisciplined talent in Al Jefferson and injuries galore.
At the same time, he's young enough that today's players remember him. Sloan was certainly revered, but players thought he played during the Garfield Administration. Corbin should get respect not only by his demeanor, but his relevance. Asked how the new coach will do, Karl Malone said, "Look who taught him. Look who taught him."
As the end came and the boo-birds came out, a couple of things were obvious. First, that things are indeed different, now that the torch has been passed. Second, a lot of the issues that led to Sloan's resignation haven't really gone anywhere.
"I would say to try to enjoy it," said Malone. "Try to embrace the situation. It doesn't happen to many people. They always dream of this moment. I always say, be careful what you wish for."
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