Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan steps down
SALT LAKE CITY — Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan stepped down Thursday after 23 seasons and 1,127 wins as head coach of the Utah Jazz.
Longtime assistant Phil Johnson, who also was in his 23rd season with the Jazz, also resigned.
Sloan said during a news conference that stepping down was his decision and that the team had tried to talk him out of it. But he said it’s time to move on.
Jazz assistant Tyrone Corbin will be the next coach.
The moves come on the heels of an emotional 91-86 loss Wednesday night to the Chicago Bulls, Utah’s 10th in the last 14 games.
Sloan, the longest-tenured coach in the four major professional sports, hinted that something was in the works after delaying his postgame press conference Wednesday night for more than 30 minutes because of what he said was a meeting with Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor.
Sloan said he made his decision to leave early Thursday.
Sloan just recently signed a one-year contract extension to carry him through the 2011-12 season, but he also indicated that he would not make anything official until after the current season.
The team started 15-5 but fell to 31-23 after the loss to Chicago, the only other team Sloan has coached (he was 94-121 in nearly three seasons with the Bulls). The Chicago loss was the third straight at home, where the Jazz are only 17-11 this season.
Sloan was asked after Wednesday’s game if there was need for a shake-up.
“I don’t think there’s any great need for panic,” he said. “Kevin is always evaluating what we can do or what someone wants to do with another team and that’s part of the business. Every day that’s part of his job.”
Though Sloan has been with the Jazz since 1983, first as a scout, he knows how tenuous professional sports can be.
Even before Wednesday’s game he made that clear.
He has made a habit of conducting his pre-game news conferences next to a large plastic garbage receptacle in the concourse at EnergySolutions Arena rather than from behind a podium.
“You never know when you might be in it,” he quipped Wednesday. “It’s why I stand here. You take what you get.”
Sloan began working for the Jazz as a scout in 1983, became assistant to coach Frank Layden on Nov. 19, 1984, and was named the sixth coach in franchise history on Dec. 9, 1988, when Layden resigned.
He is the only coach in NBA history to win 1,000 games with one team, a feat he accomplished Nov. 7 against Oklahoma City. Sloan’s other wins came with the Chicago Bulls from 1979 to 1982.
While he has headed the Jazz, there have been 245 coaching changes around the league — 13 alone by the Los Angeles Clippers, and five current NBA teams (Charlotte, Memphis, Toronto, Orlando and Minnesota) did not even exist when Sloan took the helm in Utah.
He ranks third all-time in NBA wins (1,221) behind Don Nelson (1,335) and Lenny Wilkens (1,332).
Sloan also is one of only three coaches in NBA history with 15-plus consecutive seasons with a winning record. Pat Riley and Phil Jackson, both with 19, are the others.
As a player with the Bulls, Sloan averaged 14.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 755 games played over 11 NBA seasons. Nicknamed “The Original Bull” because he was selected in the 1966 Expansion Draft, Sloan was a two-time NBA All-Star (1967, 1969) known for his toughness and grit. He was the only player in NBA history to average 7-plus rebounds and 2-plus steals per game for his career.
Sloan recorded two triple-doubles in his career. A knee injury prematurely ended his career in 1976.
His resignation comes just two weeks after the second-longest tenured professional coach, Jeff Fisher, parted ways with the Tennessee Titans after a 6-10 season.
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