Former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan seeks attention as often as someone on the FBI’s 10 most-wanted list.
When the spotlight manages to find him, Sloan is more uncomfortable than a billy goat in the pig pen, as they might say in his hometown of McLeansboro, Ill.
“I think that comes from the backgrounds — the rural backgrounds — that we both have,” says Phil Johnson, Sloan’s friend and long-time assistant.
“You don’t run around in the country and pound your chest and say how great you are. That’s the bottom line. It’s a rural-country thing and he’s always been that way.”
Remember his Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame induction in 2009?
Sloan walked slowly to the podium, exchanged words with presenter Charles Barkley, pulled a copy of his speech from a jacket pocket, put on a pair of glasses and glanced up.
“This is pretty tough for me,” he said. “It’s something I don’t like to do. But, uh, I guess I’ll get started.”
The audience laughed, not knowing exactly how much the man in front of them dreaded telling the world about himself, his life and his career.
He was petrified.
“I didn’t think I’d make it through that one,” Sloan recalled this week. “... It’s just hard to talk about myself. I don’t feel like I’ve done anything. I’ve always been team-oriented and, to talk about myself, is a difficult thing to do.”
It’s about to happen again.
On Friday night at EnergySolutions Arena, the Utah Jazz will raise a banner for Sloan, who coached the franchise for 23 years, and resigned nearly three years ago.Next Page »