SALT LAKE CITY — Ronnie Price is bummed that his team, Orlando, is hosting Milwaukee on Friday instead of playing at EnergySolutions Arena.
There’s nowhere the Utah resident and former Jazz guard would rather be than at Jerry Sloan’s banner-raising ceremony.
“I wish I could be there to be a part of that,” Price said. “But I’ll get my chance to see Coach again and explain to him how I feel and thank him again for what he’s done for me and my family and my career.”
While not all of Sloan’s fans will be able to make it Friday, there is an impressive group that will be in attendance for the day’s events, which include an invitation-only luncheon, a press conference and the halftime ceremony.
Confirmed guests include Hall of Famers John Stockton and Karl Malone; longtime coaches and front-office stalwarts Frank Layden and Scott Layden; former players Mehmet Okur and Howard Eisley; and well-known Jazz fan/musician Sen. Orrin Hatch.
Jazz figures who remained in Utah are also expected to attend, including Sloan’s trusted assistant Phil Johnson, Mark Eaton, Thurl Bailey, Matt Harpring and, of course, Utah coach Tyrone Corbin.
Another former Jazz player, Warriors coach Mark Jackson, will be on Golden State’s bench.
Price will get his next chance to see Sloan on March 22 when the Magic visit town.
“There’s not really words to describe what Sloan’s been for me. He’s a legend, definitely a legend. He’s an icon in this game,” Price said. “There’s no question the level of respect that he’s gained throughout his career as a player and his career as a coach.”
Two years after his stellar Utah Valley career concluded, Price was signed by the Jazz as one of Deron Williams’ backups in 2007. The athletic Price remained with Utah through the end of the tumultuous 2010-11 season during which Sloan called it quits.
“There’s no words to explain how valuable he’s been for people’s careers and the type of mindset and structure that he’s established and that people have adapted to,” Price said. “The city of Salt Lake, the state of Utah, have been used to a very professional-based team and a lot of that has to be do with Sloan."
Since playing for Sloan, Price's career has continued in Phoenix, Portland and Orlando, and the 30-year-old thanks his previous mentor for that.
“One thing I did learn from Sloan was how to be a professional and how to be a man in the league and gain respect from others (and) to take your job serious and to respect people," Price said. "He taught a lot of younger guys, a lot of guys, more about life through basketball than anything else, and I love him for that."
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