Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Jerry Sloan, who resigned as head coach of the Jazz in 2011, is considering a return to the NBA.
Kragthorpe: Jerry Sloan won’t worry about risking legacy

NBA » His place in Hall of Fame secure, all ex-Jazz coach wants at this point is to make an impact.

First Published May 23 2012 11:47 am • Last Updated May 24 2012 06:35 pm

Of all the factors that would drive Jerry Sloan back into coaching, the chance to post 115 more victories and overtake Don Nelson as the NBA’s all-time winningest coach almost certainly is not on that list.

The 215 losses Sloan needs to top Dick Motta’s total have much more to do with it.

At a glance

NBA coaching victory leaders

Coach Wins-Losses Pct.

Don Nelson 1,335-1,063 .557

Lenny Wilkens 1,332-1,155 .536

Jerry Sloan 1,221-803 .603

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

That’s not to say Sloan would enjoy losing those games in Charlotte, Orlando or anywhere else. Yet a healthy self-image that included a willingness to absorb defeats enabled Motta, Sloan’s mentor, and other coaches including Ron McBride and Frank Layden to take on major challenges late in their careers.

If you’re wondering why Sloan would even talk to the Charlotte Bobcats, coming off a 7-59 season, consider the responses of McBride and Layden, when I once asked them about risking their legacies by biting off big projects.

Once he stopped laughing, McBride said of becoming Weber State’s football coach at age 65, "What the hell would I risk? I’m beyond that ego standpoint."

When he took over the WNBA’s Utah Starzz in the middle of a season, Layden said, "What are they going to do, take down the flag with my name?"

Layden’s honorary No. 1 Jazz jersey continues to hang from the EnergySolutions Arena rafters, and they’re not going to kick Sloan out of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, no matter what happens from this point.

So I’d be surprised if Sloan is not coaching in October, 20 months after unceremoniously leaving the Jazz. He wants to rewrite the ending. This is not about vindication against Deron Williams or anybody else involved with the Jazz then or now — just giving himself a shot at a more satisfying finish.

There’s no guarantee of that, certainly. Going to Weber State after being fired by Utah worked for McBride during seven mostly fulfilling seasons. In contrast, Motta went 17-52 to finish the 1996-97 season in Denver and Layden stood 4-11 with the Starzz before quitting four games into the next season.

The point is, they had to try. Same story with Sloan.


story continues below
story continues below

He’s coming back, because he passed over all the previous markers for retirement. He did not quit when he was close to the top (consecutive NBA Finals appearances) or close to the bottom (a 26-56 record in 2004-05). He did not quit when his wife died, or when he was remarried. He did not quit when he became a Hall of Famer.

He quit when he’d had enough of D-Will, but that decision was emotion-driven, not calculated.

So now he’s looking to get back into the game. He’ll be careful, having once turned down an offer to coach the expansion Miami Heat in favor of waiting for another opportunity — which happened to be the Jazz’s job, when Layden resigned. Just the same, the vacancies in Charlotte and Orlando are both intriguing.

In the case of Charlotte, I’d suggest waiting until the May 30 draft lottery, when the odds suggest the Bobcats will position themselves to land Anthony Davis. Otherwise, Sloan could become like Rick Pitino, who thought Tim Duncan was coming to Boston when he took the Celtics job.

If the ping-pong balls bounce right, Charlotte’s vacancy immediately is upgraded. Imagine the irony of Sloan’s working for owner Michael Jordan, 14 years after Jordan’s Bulls beat the Jazz for a second time in the NBA Finals.

In Orlando, Sloan would have Dwight Howard, or potentially other good players via a trade.

So if he took one of those jobs, Sloan would have a chance to make an impact. That’s all he wants, even if it means having his lifetime winning percentage dip below .600. The Hall of Fame curators won’t care either.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribkurt



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.