BYU Wins Holy War

BYU Wins Holy War
George, like Collie and Harline before him, is now still open!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Jerry Sloan Named Coach of the Month, Now What?

Jerry Sloan has been named coach of the month ten times, but has never won the big coaching award...

The Jazz finished February with an 10 - 1 record, and have won their last eight games. Ever since the All-Star break the Jazz have been playing their best basketball of the season. The league recognizing Utah's excellent play by naming Jerry Sloan Western Conference Coach of the Year.

As usual Jerry Sloan didn't seem to pay any attention to the award. Jerry Sloan is an old school coach and is under the impression that players are the people that win and lose games. Sloan views it as his job to have his players buy into his system in order to have their best chances of winning. Yet, even though Sloan's system has proven to be very effective Sloan has never tried to take credit for the success of his teams. Although Sloan is the first to take the blame for the poor play of his players.

It seems odd that the NBA has only named Jerry Sloan Western Conference Coach of the Year ten times, in his twenty-one year coaching career with the Utah Jazz. The more amazing fact is that Jerry Sloan has never been named the coach of the year.

Yes, Sloan has only had one losing season during his time at the helm of the Jazz. He has taken the Jazz to multiple Western Conference Finals, and two NBA Finals. Sloan is the longest tenured coach in all of professional sports. (Well major professional sports, I don't include soccer on that list) Yet, the NBA has not seen fit to give Jerry Sloan, who is a finalist for the Hall of Fame, the Coach of the Year award.

The NBA hasn't seen fit to give the Coach of the Year award to Jerry Sloan, but they haven't seen any problem in giving the award away to unproven coaches. Of the last ten coaches whom have won the Coach of the Year award, only two are still employed by the teams that they were coaching when they won the award. One is last year's winner New Orleans Hornets coach Bryon Scott, and the other winner is Spur's coach Gregg Popovich.

Jerry Sloan has had many seasons that should have been good enough to win the award. Problems that Sloan had faced in the past is the bias against him due to Stockton and Malone being on the Jazz. Media members would discount Sloan's performances claiming that his success was directly due to Stockton and Malone carrying the team for him. Although the hypocrisy of the media is seen when they gave the Coach of the Year award to Phil Jackson when he was coaching the Bulls in the mid-90's. If there was ever a team that gave an advantage to a coach it is Michael Jordan's Bulls.

Sloan deserved the award for each of the 1996-97, 1997-98, 2003-04, 2007-08, and he also deserves the award this season.

The problem is a single Coach of the Year award isn't good enough to honor Jerry Sloan. Sure the media will band together one of these years and give the Coach of the Year award to Jerry as if it is some type of lifetime achievement award. After the media gives the award to Jerry they will pat themselves on the back and consider the job done. Jerry Sloan has done too much for far too long for a single award to give credit to his accomplishments.

What should be done? There are either two options. First, the NBA needs to rename the Coach of the Year award after Jerry Sloan. The problem with this solution is the award is already named after Red Auerbach. It would be very poor taste for the NBA to rename the award for anyone, even Jerry Sloan.

The second option is to create a new award. Jerry Sloan has never looked for the limelight, and has only done the things that need to be done to help his team improve. There are many people in the NBA that do the same thing every year. Yet, they never get acknowledged for their contribution due to their low profile. Enter the Jerry Sloan Special Achievement Award. The award would go to any member, front office, player, coach, trainer, etc. That went above and beyond their call of duty to help their team win.

Past winners on the Utah Jazz could include: Hot Rod Hundley, for his time as play-by-play voice of the Utah Jazz; The Jazz Bear, for his stunts and work in the community; Gary Briggs, long time trainer of the Utah Jazz; or Adam Keefe, for his hustle and small ball play that helped the Jazz. These are just a few of the examples of people that would be eligible for the Jerry Sloan Award. There are countless people on each team that would be eligible, and there isn't currently an award that rewards these people for their achievement.

Just like Jerry Sloan, the award would give credit to the people of the league that go to work and get their job done. Creating a new award would be a far better thing for the NBA to do to acknowledge Jerry's Achievements. Especially because it wouldn't be about making Jerry look good, but the hard working people of the NBA. Just like Jerry would like it to be. It isn't about him, it is about the game.

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