Would Phil Johnson return with Jerry Sloan? Probably not
Coaching • Sloan’s interest in Charlotte, Orlando raises questions.
Published: May 29, 2012 01:37PM
Updated: May 23, 2012 11:43PM

The most famous basketball-related tandem in Utah Jazz history is John Stockton and Karl Malone.

Jerry Sloan and Phil Johnson are No. 2.

Sloan was the Jazz’s head coach for 23 years. Johnson was his top assistant every step of the way.

Sloan and Johnson resigned at the same time midway through last season, stepping away from a game that had dominated their lives since they were teenagers.

On Tuesday, however, Sloan told The Salt Lake Tribune he has talked to Charlotte owner Michael Jordan about the Bobcats’ vacant head coaching job and could interview as early as this week.

Sloan also said he would be interested in the top job in Orlando, where Stan Van Gundy was fired Monday.

With Sloan pondering a possible return to coaching, an obvious question surfaced: Would Johnson also come back?

“Me?” Johnson said Wednesday. “I don’t know. I guess I’ll make the same statement I’ve made from the beginning. You never say no because you don’t know what all the circumstances would be. But probably no.”

Reached at his home on Bear Lake, Johnson said he talked to Sloan “the other day,” but they did not discuss a return to coaching or any specific job.

Asked for his read on Sloan’s future, Johnson said, “I think he’d really like to get back into it, and I fully support him.

“If Jerry has the desire to coach again, I think it’s great. He should do exactly what makes him happy. Nothing should hold him back.”

Johnson, 71, attended Utah State and coached at Weber State.

In the early 1970s, Johnson was an assistant coach with the Chicago Bulls. Sloan was one of his players.

Johnson was the head coach of the Kansas City-Sacramento Kings on two different occasions. He was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year in 1975.

When Sloan became the head coach of the Jazz in 1988, he quickly hired Johnson as his lead assistant.

Since the two resigned in February 2011, Johnson has stayed connected to the Jazz by working as a radio analyst for the team’s home games.

“I don’t have to travel,” he said. “It’s been good for me.”