Jerry Sloan resigned as head coach of the Utah Jazz because he’s smart — smart enough to know that a bulldog with no teeth has too much in common with a scapegoat.
In Larry Miller’s day, players either had to shape up or ship out.
Larry Miller stood by Sloan, his system and his tough love, and when the Jazz had players that could man up, such as Malone, Stockton, Hornecek, Harpring, etc., the Jazz had success.
Not so today.
The Miller family, so afraid that their pouty point guard might be too unhappy as his contract expires, have let Deron Williams show up Coach Sloan again and again with impunity. Williams has taken Sloan on in the locker room and in the press, and the Millers did nothing to stand by their coach.
By all appearances, Jerry Sloan realized his loyalty was no longer reciprocated by Larry Miller’s heirs, leaving him with no teeth, no authority to right the ship.
So what choice did Jerry have?
So yes, technically “DWill,” who loves to be hard on everyone but himself, did not force Sloan out…
Instead, Deron Williams and the Miller family simply let Jerry know over these last months that the Jazz was no longer Sloan’s team.
Sloan got the hint and resigned.
While the Millers did try to talk Jerry out of retiring, their actions, and inactions, of late must have just made their words ring hollow for Coach Sloan.
Who can blame Jerry for not wanting to hang around as Prince Williams’ whipping boy?
There have been a lot of incorrect things said and written of Jerry Sloan, including that he did not change and adapt to today’s game. Before you buy into that nonsense, please carefully consider this article I wrote in June of 2010, defending Sloan from so-called Jazz fans.
The reality is Jerry Sloan has adapted his system to his players and to the modern game. What has not changed is Jerry’s hard and demanding expectation of his players.
All season, the Jazz have started games infamously slow, and have often rallied and come from behind to pull out a win. Then again, the Jazz sometimes never snapped out of it and played losing basketball all game long.
What all these comebacks prove though, is that these players have what it takes to play winning basketball, when they can be bothered to.
Unfortunately, instead of helping Sloan whip them into shape so they play all game every game, the Millers pandered to players and made the problem worse.
Sloan’s legacy as a coach is assured. It is not likely anyone will surpass his 23 years as a head coach of one franchise any time soon — if at all — and whether Sloan retires now or in 3 years, odds are he will still retire without a championship or a coach of the year.
And just as I do not think of Karl Malone, John Stockton, Steve Nash, Patrick Ewing, Reggie Miller, etc. as losers, neither do I consider Jerry Sloan as one. Sloan, like these other greats, merely had the misfortune of peaking in the Phil Jackson era.
Speaking of Phil Jackson, has it dawned on anyone that Phil Jackson’s “triangle offense” is a 70 year old offensive system invented by Kansas State in the 1940s?
If the famously headstrong likes of Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Dennis Rodman, Kobe Bryant and Karl Malone could conform to the demands of an older coach, using a 70 year old offense, who is Deron Williams to whine about Jerry Sloan?
It has been said, “Shame on the NBA for taking Jerry Sloan for granted and never giving him a Coach of the Year award.”
Well I say 10 times the shame on any Jazz ownership, players and fans who have taken Jerry Sloan for granted.
With the retirement of Jerry Sloan, and the eminent retiring of Phil Jackson at the end of this season, an era ends for the NBA, leaving the NBA to a generation who apparently has never figured out the difference between “old school,” and timeless.