Jerry Sloan never applied for the head coaching job with the Miami Heat, but he was still slightly disappointed to finish second to Ron Rothstein.
Rothstein, the Detroit Pistons' No. 1 assistant, was introduced as the Heat's first coach at a news conference today. Sloan, the four-year Jazz assistant, was the other finalist."In one way, it's kind of frustrating," said Sloan from his home in McLeansboro, Ill. "In another way, no problem. You always hate to come in second, but it'll work out fine."
Rothstein, 45, was a late arrival to the NBA, starting as a scout before becoming an assistant coach in Atlanta for three years and Detroit for two. Like Sloan in Utah, he's credited for designing the Pistons' defense and, while his reputation and marketability grew during the playoffs, he was high on Miami's list long before the NBA Finals.
"He's a teacher, one with patience," Heat managing partner Lewis Schaffel said of Rothstein. "He's just the person we need to work with our young players."
Miami had added Sloan to the list June 3, after the Jazz denied them permission to talk to Coach Frank Layden. Sloan was interviewed in Miami last Wednesday and learned Monday from Heat part-owner Billy Cunningham that he was out of the running.
During his interview, Sloan told Miami officials that the Jazz wanted him to bring back any offer to them, which may have hurt his chances for the job. "I wanted to be up front with them," said Sloan. "I wasn't trying to pull any wool over anybdy's eyes."
Jazz owner Larry Miller took the same stance with assistant coach Scott Layden, who turned down an offer to become Minnesota's player personnel director. The Jazz in essence matched the offer, giving Layden a new contract and more responsibility; he's expected to receive the same title he would have had in Minnesota.
As for Sloan, 46, he holds the title of the Next Jazz Coach. Miller has promised him the job when Frank Layden retires, sometime in the next five years. "I was flattered by that," said Sloan. "On the other hand, I don't want anybody to put themselves in that position. Something better might come along for them."
That's doubtful, considering Sloan's contribution and the way the Jazz regard him. He joined the team in November 1984 when his close friend, Phil Johnson left to become the Kings' head coach. In the Layden-Sloan years, the Jazz have won 41, 42, 44 and 47 games.
The Jazz brought Sloan back to the NBA, after he was fired as Chicago's head coach in 1982. He declined a chance to become a Dallas assistant to Dick Motta in 1986 and withdrew from consideration as Indiana's head coach later that summer.
Of the latest process, he said, "At least, people were interested in me from both sides."