Jerry Sloan always did things his way.
So when the Utah Jazz honor the legendary coach at halftime of tonight’s game by raising a banner celebrating his 1,223 wins as the team’s head coach, it’s because Sloan gave the OK.
That doesn’t mean it didn’t take a little coercion.
“We’ve wanted to and been eager as an organization to recognize Coach Sloan for all of his accomplishments,” team president Randy Rigby said at a pre-game news conference, “and we’re glad that finally Gail and Greg and Steve [Miller] were able to twist his arm and make this become to be a reality.”
“I’ve got to get the knife out of my back first. Gail stuck me pretty good,” Sloan said in his opening remarks before adding, “I’m very honored that you went ahead and did the knife thing.”
Flanked by fellow Hall of Famers John Stockton and Karl Malone, Sloan deflected the attention on him.
“I thought I was a great coach until we lost these guys,” Sloan said. “Things kind of fell apart there for a while.”
Under Sloan, the Jazz enjoyed 10 seasons of 50-plus wins, six division titles and two trips to the NBA Finals.
Along with Stockton and Malone, Sloan will be one of 11 banners hanging from the rafters of EnergySolutions Arena.
“He’s never been given anything in his life that he hasn’t earned,” Stockton said, “and tonight’s no different.”