MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Jerry Sloan used to say he would've been fine spending his entire career coaching behind Frank Layden.
That's how much the Hall of Fame coach appreciated and admired his old boss.
It's been a year since Sloan joined Layden in the NBA retirement ranks, but the respect in that relationship remains close to the heart of one particular Utah Jazz assistant coach.
Scott Layden expressed gratitude to the man who became a coaching legend after reluctantly taking over for his dad in 1988.
"I appreciate more than anything his unbelievable loyalty to my father, because as an assistant coach he was fiercely loyal," Layden said of Sloan. "I'll never forget that."
Sloan always had the best interest of the Jazz organization in his mind, Layden said. That remained the case even when he could've — and others might've — tried to work things to favor his situation over the team's success. Layden recognized that as an assistant and as the Jazz's director of player personnel. Sloan didn't try to mortgage the future to make trades for picks or players.
"He always had the franchise's best interest at heart," Layden said, "and I know that."
Sloan looked out for Layden's father as well.
While Friday marked the one-year anniversary of Sloan resigning, Saturday was a big day for the Laydens. Frank Layden, who recently turned 80, had his jersey retired in a ceremony at Niagara University, where he succeeded as a player (1951-55) and coach (1968-76) for the Purple Eagles.
Layden called it a "wonderful honor" to return home for the tribute.
Layden, one of the most influential people in Jazz franchise history, continues to have an impact on the organization.
Corbin invited the gifted speaker to address his newly formed coaching staff before the 2011-12 season. Layden's message included bits of wisdom about "being a team on the staff and being on the same page," Corbin said. Layden offered pointers on preparation and game situations.
"He's been a tremendous influence," Corbin said. "He's done a tremendous job of working (for) this franchise from the time they came into Salt Lake, and he's been a tremendous presence in this community for a lot a lot of years."
Many people are thankful for that. Some, like the younger Layden, are even grateful for the thankful ones.
IN THEIR SHOES: Corbin knows how difficult the next three days will be for his players. He played for Atlanta in 1999, when teams had back-to-back-to-backs in that 50-game season.
"I was probably a little more tired than the other guys," recalled Corbin, who was 37 and in his 14th NBA season during that lockout-shortened year. "That third night was difficult to get yourself going."
Corbin's legs got "wobbly," and he had to work twice as hard to rebound, get up the court and stay between his man and the basket.
"I've always tried to play as hard as I could every minute I was on the floor," Corbin said. "I just felt like I was running in mud the whole game."
FORGET ME NOT: Alec Burks, Jeremy Evans and Jamaal Tinsley haven't played since the Jazz fell at Golden State over a week ago. Tinsley missed one game for personal reasons, but otherwise, the three reserves simply haven't had their number called in four straight games.
Corbin said the three are all deserving of action, but he doesn't want them to simply get mop-up time.
The Jazz coach was asked specifically about Burks' inactivity for the third day in a row.
"It's a difficult situation for me. It's more me than him," Corbin said of the 20-year-old rookie. "He deserves to get minutes on the floor. I told him I want to get him quality minutes on the floor and he deserves to play, just keep working at things and things will work themselves out and he's been tremendous with that."
Corbin has noticed improvement in Burks' game and called him an "extremely talented young guy" who can help the Jazz now and in the future.
Email: [email protected]