“It’s one of those things I’d like to have behind me,” he said. “But it is a very nice honor. … The Jazz have always been very fair to me over the years. It was hard to say no.”
Sloan played 11 years in the NBA, starting in 1965-66 and including 10 seasons in Chicago, where he was the heart and soul of the post-expansion Bulls.
Johnson and Sloan have known have known each other since 1968. Then the coach at Weber State, Johnson would go to Chicago every summer and help the Bulls’ Dick Motta, his predecessor with the Wildcats, run rookie camp.
Inevitably, Sloan would show up.
“He’d come by to watch,” Johnson said, “But pretty soon he’d be out there, too, playing with the rookies. He couldn’t just watch.”
Johnson became Motta’s assistant in 1972, when his relationship with Sloan was cemented.
“One thing he’s never thought about,” Johnson said, “is personal accolades. … It’s not that he doesn’t have confidence. He knows what he can do in certain situations. He just doesn’t talk a lot about it and would rather defer to other people who help him.”
Minnesota coach Rick Adelman has known Sloan nearly as long as Johnson.
“The thing about Jerry was … you hated him when you played [against] him and you loved him when he was on your side,” he said.
Adelman was traded to Chicago during the 1973-74 season.
“I wasn’t much of a player or anything,” he recalled. “… But Jerry [still] took me out to get furniture before my wife got there.”
Adelman’s favorite memory during his year in Chicago came during the ’74 playoffs. Sloan suffered a broken foot in the first quarter of Game 6 in a series against Detroit. But he kept playing.« Previous Page Next Page »