Luhm: Adelman a most worthy opponent for the Jazz
With the possible exception of Phil Jackson, no one has coached more high-stakes games against the Jazz than Rick Adelman.
First with Portland, then with Sacramento, then with Houston, Adelman's teams often stood in the way of Utah's quest to rise in the pecking order in the Western Conference.
Sometimes, the Jazz beat Adelman.
Sometimes, he beat the Jazz.
On Monday night at Target Center, Adelman could coach his last game against Utah and the next-to-last game of his career.
He turns 67 in June but, more significantly, Mary Kay Adelman has been battling health issues since January. Her husband missed 11 games during the season to be at her side and has since called this his most difficult year in coaching.
"It is life," said Minnesota's Andrei Kirilenko, who spent his first 10 NBA seasons with the Jazz. "We can't do anything about it. We support him as much as possible, but he needs to take care of the family first. Don't worry about what's going on here. Worry about family. That's how it is supposed to be."
If these are the final days of Adelman's 22-year career, he will leave as one of eight NBA head coaches with 1,000 regular-season wins.
The Timberwolves helped Adelman reach the milestone with a 107-101 win over Detroit on April 6. It was their 29th victory of the season.
"It was great," Adelman said. "That's a lot of wins, and it's been a lot of years. I like the way our team competed, trying to get those [wins] for me. But I'm glad it's out of the way."
On the court, the season hasn't produced many other highlights.
Going in, All-Star forward Kevin Love, flashy point guard Ricky Rubio and emerging center Nikola Pekovic formed a sturdy-looking foundation.
In addition, Minnesota signed Brandon Roy and Kirilenko and acquired Chase Budinger in a trade.
It appeared reaching the playoffs was a realistic goal at least until the Timberwolves were battered by injuries.
Love, Roy and Budinger have been sidelined most of the season, and Rubio missed 25 early-season games while recovering from knee surgery.
Guard Luke Ridnour is the only player on the roster who has played in all 80 games.
Kirilenko shakes his head.
"Playing-wise, it's been what I thought my role on the team and what I expected from Rick," he said. "But we have so many injuries. I don't know if I've ever seen when so many guys miss almost the whole season. â¦
"This has been devastating, of course, and it is frustrating to finish the season like this knowing you are going to vacation in a couple of games. But at least we see we are on a good track with healthy players."
Whether Adelman returns as the engineer of the train, however, is uncertain.
If not, he should be remembered around here as a most worthy opponent.