We've been spoiled in Utah with so many great sports figures, especially
compared to our small population. No sports figure, associated with the State of
Utah, has been, or is bigger or more influential than Coach Sloan.
What Jerry Sloan was to the NBA can be seen in the Utah Jazz of today, because
more than anything else, they are very tough, tough minded and they play as a
team. Quinn Snyder grows more Jerry Sloan like with each passing day which makes
sense because Quinn was a tough player himself and is a strong person. When the
Jazz--as they are doing a little more with each game this season---settle down
into their defensive posture and decide to get a little more Jerry Sloan like,
they are incredibly difficult for anyone to get past. They will win more games
this year than last (49 is my guess) and do a slow burn toward being one of the
two or three best teams in the NBA for years to come. That's Sloan's
influence. Chop wood. Don't be afraid to put the work in. Grow.
Growing up in Chicago I remember Sloan in the 70s. Sloan and Norm Van Lier were
the toughest and most feared backcourt in the NBA. Teams hated going against
them as they were so physically punishing. I will never forget Sloan slamming
Jerry West to the court during a playoff game. He may have finished his career
in SLC but Jerry Sloan is Chicago through and through. His name is alongside
Dick Butkus in Chicago sports lore.
Jerry Sloan, is both amazing and humble.
Grown man. And you better be one yourself if you were going to play for him.
Fair, so smart, disciplined, great dry sense of humor, loyal to his players,
incredible respect for the game and how it should be played. Never once involved
in any kind of scandal and never once sought to bring attention to himself.
Believed that it was a players game. Treated players as men and not children.
Did not feel that it was his job to "motivate" men who were making
millions of dollars to play NBA ball. Dealt with star players in the same way
that Coach Pop does in San Antonio--and no star was going to ever call the shots
for Jerry Sloan. Handled his own legacy as a player brilliantly. I never once
heard Jerry Sloan say--"Well, this is how I did it back in the
day..."---and as a player? One word: brilliant. Simply the
meanest, most hard nosed defender I have ever seen. Seeing him get down in a
crouch when Jerry West brought the ball over the time line is etched in so many
fans memories. A monument to outworking your opponent. He's a
flat out legend. Someday, you'll tell your grandkids that you saw Jerry
When I was a teenager, I remember watching Jerry Sloan play NBA basketball (on
TV). He was a tough defensive player that no one wanted to play against. In
that era of the NBA, the game was much more physical. I remember watching one
game where Jerry kept getting slammed into hard and knocked to the floor--coming
up with a bloody nose on more than one play. He just jumped back up and kept
playing dogged defense. He was the referent for being tough, in a very tough
era of NBA basketball.Even as a coach, you could tell that his
players didn't want to mess with him, even in his 60's, because he was
still old man tough. As the Jazz coach, Jerry Sloan brought that culture of
being tough-minded and hard-nosed to the Jazz, and Karl Malone and John Stockton
embodied that culture.Fortunately that tough-minded, hard-nosed
culture has been passed on to the current generation of Jazz players, with Rudy
Gobert (whom Jerry recommended the Jazz should draft), Derrick Favors, Jae
Crowder, Joe Ingles, Donovan Mitchell, Ricky Rubio, Royce O'Neale, Raul
Neto, Ekpe Udoh, Kyle Korver and Thabo Sefolosha all particularly showing that
toughness ( as well as Dante Exum, if could stay healthy).
What else can be said. Like Stockton and Malone he is one of a kind and will
not be duplicted. My favorite story of him is when the Bear bet him he could
not stop swearing and every time he did he had to put money in the pot for the
bear. The last part of the story is seeing the Bear drive away in his new Larry
Miller car. Prayers to a very great man.
Great player, great coach, great man, an example for young people. Jerry Sloan