Jazz players discuss the relationship between coach Jerry Sloan and guards Deron Williams and Raja Bell.
Quotes are leftover from a feature article about the trio.
On Sloan: He's been doing it a long time. It's his team. We're under him. I try to be a leader under him and do things the way he wants them done.
He's been great this year.
I definitely have a lot of respect him. Anybody that wins that many games.
I think he trusts me and knows that all I want to do is win. When I come to him with something — it's not everyday — he listens, but it doesn't mean he always agrees with me.
Bell: He's been great for us leadership-wise. He's been here. He knows coach Sloan better than a lot of guys.
Williams' competitive drive: You have to have that competitive drive, or you can't rise above everybody else who plays this game for a living and separate yourself. That's how you get there. And once you get there, you separate yourself and put yourself on another level, and people actually recognize that.
I know from my own experience, that same competitive spirit hasn't allowed me to rise above, but it's allowed me to just be here. But it can get you in trouble at times. It's something that you just can't turn off. I haven't had enough experience with Deron to see it really get him in trouble. But I know that it can, because it's happened to me. The longer you play, the longer you go, you learn how to control that, and when and where it's appropriate to be that ultimate competitor. Really, really good competitors know how to let someone else win sometimes. When it really means something to that [other] person and maybe it doesn't mean a whole lot to you, they know how to take a step back and let somebody else win at something. That kind of stuff you learn.
Getting to know Williams: Deron and I good. There's a respect there. I'm experienced playing with guys like him, because I've played with some great point guards and I kind of know what makes them tick a little bit.
As a sidekick to one of those great point guards, you have to be laid back. Understand that sometimes there are going to be opportunities. And then, other times, you have to lay back and let them do their thing. And that's not just on the court — that's also off the court. They're usually the voice and the leader of a team. And when you need to back them up or maybe they don't have the energy to do it that night, then you do it.
Team's commitment to winning: The worst feeling that you can ever have is doing something to let your teammate down. It's one thing to let your coach down. But to let your teammate down, that's somebody that's on the floor that's battling with you, and you just don't want to have that feeling. When you see guys who work hard and try to do all the right things, you don't want to be that guy on the floor that slips up by doing something in a lazy way.
Silent accountability … it's not verbal bashing.
For sure. It's very much so different. You can go and do documentaries on the league, and you won't find that. You can probably pick three or four organizations that might have something similar to what we have here, and they're all going to be successful organizations.
You always want it to stay that way. You don't ever want anything to break up your team. And with those guys around, it's a much easier situation be around, and it's a much easier thing to maintain.
His leadership: I think guys respect the way that I am towards them, and they know they can talk to me about anything — anything that they're going through on and off the floor. … My leadership is more of an example of how I play. If the verbal needs to be there, then I'm there. If not, I just try to lead by example — especially for the young guys; I'm able to talk to them more.
Bell: A guy like Raj comes in, and he fits right in. We don't have, like, certain cliques on the team. When we have team functions outside of basketball, everyone's there, everyone's involved, no one's left out. And you don't find that. You have team functions on other teams, you might see two or three guys hanging out with each other all the time. But here, we hang out as a team. Everything we do is as a team. When we go out to eat, it's a team function. Everyone has the invite to go. We're a family. We treat each other as a family, and I think that's why it works.
Sloan: I think he's a very humble coach. When I say he's consistent, that doesn't mean he's not open to learning and trying to win games. That's what makes him different. … There's a lot of coaches that are stuck in their systems. That probably think they know everything and don't want to make a few changes here and there with the team to win a few games. I don't think coach Sloan is like that. I think he's a very humble coach who's open to learning new things and becoming a good coach.
People don't know that he's very personable. That's one thing coming in here I didn't really know. You just look from the outside looking in. In the media, there's some out there that may put off a character that's not really him.
You get here and he speaks to you and you can have a normal conversation with him. That makes you feel better about your relationship with your coach. And I know for a fact that you can't go across the league and find that. There are some coaches who won't even speak with you; they won't even conversate with you — they keep it so much on a business level. And that's what I respect about coach Sloan the most, is the way he is on and off the court. And that's why he's been so successful in this league and been around so long. When you're good to other people, people are good back to you.
Williams: He hasn't been in any way thrown into a situation to where everything was on his head. Coach has been great in that. To where, if things go wrong, coach will stick his head up and say, 'Hey, I made a mistake.' And I think Deron's the same way. If things don't go his way, he'll say 'I made a mistake,' and I think that's the way we all are. It just goes down from them and it feeds it to us. A lot of guys on this team, we all are committed to winning. We want to be on the same page so much that we would rather take the blame for the team than have everyone bash the team, and it starts with them.
Williams: He going to be the same D-Will every day. He's always the first one to speak to you. He always have some questions on the side.
Sloan: He know what he want to do. He know how he want to do it. That's something that I've never seen. Yeah, he hard. He demanding. He want you to go out and play with respect and do all the right things.
He demanding. But he also very motivating. He'll build you up. I haven't experienced no breakdowns since I've been here.
One on one … we have great conversations … be patient, don't panic on me, you're going to get it, not learn overnight
Instead of me going to him, he'll send other assistant coaches or video to me.
We both country boys, so we like to talk about fishing and all those things country boys like to do.
That's what I've seen that I didn't see before I got here. I actually thought he was a mean guy. When I seen him smile for the first time, it was like, 'Oh, he do smile.' It's hard to read this team on the outside looking in. When I got here, I found a lot of stuff that I didn't know — a lot of great stuff. This team, especially coach Sloan, has got a great personality, a great sense of humor. It was all right.
— Brian T. Smith
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