Being the coach of the Utah Jazz for 23 seasons gave Jerry Sloan plenty of opportunities to speak his mind. And while many of his most notable sayings were most frequently made behind closed doors — or were otherwise unprintable — Sloan still made clear what he believed in every time he spoke to the media next to a trash can.
We thought we’d compile some of our favorite Sloan quotes from a lifetime in basketball.
On why his players had to work hard at Jazz training camp: “Hope they realize they can feed their family a lot easier playing this than playing bingo or something.”
On the Minnesota Timberwolves: “Minnesota has given us trouble since day one for whatever reason. I don’t know if we’re scared of wolves or what.”
On the Jazz’s propensity for comeback wins: “Even when we had a little trouble to start the season, at least they stayed together and worked themselves out of it. That’s the only way you have a chance. If you get [in] an ice pick fight out in the parking lot, then you have to try to solve that problem.”
On winning a game in a playoff race: “That keeps us alive. Otherwise, we’re probably dead. It’s pretty simple. It’s just like anybody. We’d like to stay alive a little longer."
On Karl Malone: “We’ve been together 18 years. Even in a marriage, that’s a long time."
On John Stockton: “In 19 years Stockton never once lost a suicide drill in practice. Well, there was one day. He was sick. But he still ran it.”
On winning the 1997 Western Conference Finals: “These guys have been criticized the last few years for not getting to where we’re going, but I’ve always said that the most important thing in sports is to keep trying. Let this be an example of what it means to say it’s never over.”
On losing Game 2 of the 1998 NBA Finals: “It looked like [the Bulls] were wearing tuxedos. We didn’t want to touch them.”
On Michael Jordan: “In my prime I could have handled Michael Jordan. Of course, he would be only 12 years old.”
On Kobe Bryant: “He draws so much attention. You give too much help, somebody else is open. If you don’t give enough help, he’s got what he wants; kind of like Miss America. She gets what she wants.”
On if a fan should get a Jerry Sloan tattoo: “It’s your body; do what you want.”
On whether his hat meant he was sponsored by John Deere: “Not a penny. If I buy another tractor, I suppose they’d give me another hat."
On the NBA’s dress code: “If they told me to take my shoes off, I’d coach barefoot.”
On winning 3 straight after being down 10 at halftime: “That’ll get you a toothpick and a glass of water when you’re hungry. Nobody cares about that.”
On young center Kyrylo Fesenko: “He’s got talent, but it’s important for him to stay focused on what we’re trying to do and not be jackpotting around.”
On C.J. Miles’ good game: “He’s probably saying, 'Why haven’t I played all year? I was asking the same thing."
On C.J. Miles’ bad game: “I mean, I don’t care if he’s 19 or 30. If he’s going to be on the floor in the NBA, he’s got to be able to step up and get after it. We can’t put diapers on him one night, and a jockstrap the next night.”
On Ricky Davis missing a shot on his own basket to get a rebound, trying to get a triple-double: “Let him try to get it when the game means something. I was proud of DeShawn [Stevenson] and I would have knocked him down harder. They can put me in jail for saying that, but that’s the way it is"
On his toughness: “Because when I get put in a corner, I’m not gonna just fold up like an accordion. I never have. I’ll try to do it the right way and be fair, but I’m going to put everything I have into it. And if that’s not enough, if it doesn’t work, fine."