Jazz and NBA coaches, as well as Utah general manager Kevin O'Connor, discuss the relationship between Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and guards Deron Williams and Raja Bell.
Leftover quotes from a feature about Sloan, Williams and Raja Bell.
Balancing coaching with player relationships: My job is just to direct guys and see where they go. This is a player's game, not a coach's game. I've never felt anything other than that as long as I've been here. You just hope that you make halfway-decent decisions.
I didn't go through a lot of conversations with John Stockton when he was here. Just play basketball. That's all we're looking for. If we run a play, run the play. What else do you do? Tell them to do cartwheels before they get into it?
When John was here, he just played.
Deron does the same thing, which I think is important to see what's happening.
How he handles relationships: I'm not a judge of myself. That's not my job. My job is to coach, do the best I can and go home. I don't have an ego about it. I'm sure there's probably 29 other coaches better than I am, and that's the way I've always looked at it. I sincerely mean that.
Assistants: I think I have an obligation to them as well as I do to the players.
Being able to push Williams: I never try to push anybody. I've always believed motivation's one of the most overused terms in sports. You've got to do it yourself. If you're sitting out there waiting for somebody to push you, you're going to be waiting 10 years.
John and Karl are probably as good as anyone that's ever played this game that I've been around, and they pushed themselves everyday.
A shared commitment toward winning: I only have one interest in being here, and that's to win every game you play.
Kevin O' Connor
Sloan: I think he's always been very pliable. … I think there are some things that he has standards on. I don't think he has a lot of rules. But I think the couple rules that he has about playing hard and playing to win are very important to him.
Examples of change: Deron off double; tweaking; Andrei misses, becomes a passer; Earl at 1, Deron at 2, they're chasing us; Memo not the same as Ostertag; pitch and pop instead of pitch and dive with Karl; high C, 11, double C -- We run them the same, it's just, how many times do we run them, and who do we put in that position.
Sloan's relationship with Williams: I think that it's evolved. I think that's what happened is he's given him a latitude as far as what happens on the floor.
As he's gained experience, they've communicated better through the course of it. … Evolved
Sloan changing: That's all bull. He's always had tremendous common sense about the game. He may not look as fiery but it's in him. He hasn't changed that much.
Game hasn't changed that much. … Money is more now but it seemed like a lot then.
What has changed in him the most since I started working with him is his ability to accept the fact that he might make a mistake. … He wanted to be so perfect, when all of us make mistakes — you can't be perfect. He worried about that a lot.
The other thing is he really does delegate authority very, very well. Very well. … That's what it makes it fun to coach here.
Sloan: As he's gotten older …hHe's adjusted to the guys that's come in the league and been willing to listen to their perception about what they need to help get better. He's a little bit more lenient as far as giving them a little bit more rope to do what they want to do on the floor, within the scheme of what he wants them to do on the floor.
It's maturing. He understands that the guys are different and they communicate a little differently.
Adapting without changing who he is. There's a medium in there. You can adapt to where you ain't who you are — you're just kind of whatever adaption you are; whatever kind of changes guys want to make. Well, it's not to that point. But he will give them a little bit more room to figure out what they need to do within what he want them to do to get the thing done.
Sloan and Williams: It's a little bit of the same. He has adapted to who Deron is, and Deron has adapted to who coach is. And I think they both know what the expectations of each other are. And they have adjusted whatever personalities they have to be able to communicate to relate to what they need to get done on the floor as a team to be effective.
Respect. Ultimately that's the thing that's going to carry them both to succeed, is that they respect each other. I think that's mutual on both sides.
Bell: Guys are more susceptible to listening to somebody who they think is talking about the right things for the team and not just for himself. And he's a team guy.
It helps a ton. He's a guy that's going to be accountable for his own actions. So it's requiring the other guys to be accountable for their actions. And me, as an individual player, if I know that I'm struggling or I know that I'm not working as hard as I can work, I've got to take heed to that of what the guy is saying, because now I can't hide. I've got to step it up. He's going to step it up. The team's going to step it up. So, if I want to be a part of it.
Working with and pushing star players: You develop the player, and you hope that his character is what continues as you go along. You want people that are driven. You want people that are winners and hate to lose. And you want people that are not afraid to fail.
Jerry's had a number of players over the years that he's familiar with and he knows what it takes. He's a good judge of character. I think given the relationship with Deron, it's been great. … Paul/Williams
Pushing star players: That's a fine line. My take on it is, when you have a leader, you want to very carefully walk the edge of grounding them. … Most of that has to be done away from the team. And occasionally, there's an opportunity where you may have to have a responsibility the team has to hear. But that's very rare. Most of it is about just keeping them grounded and understanding you playing your role and this is what you establish and continue to do this; monitor this territory over here — your essential needs or whatever.
I think that bodes very well for players. Especially players that want to maintain their status.
Williams: He's a huge competitor. He's getting better. He's certainly now a legitimate star; definitely one of the top guards in the league. He has the confidence, the know how to run a team and control a game. A lot of their big runs here lately, the ball's in his hands. He's doing some unbelievable things as far as scoring, getting the ball to guys who are open. He's holding guys accountable. He's getting in people's faces out on the floor. So, he's totally taken over that leadership role out on the floor for them.
— Brian T. Smith
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