Why has Jerry Sloan succeeded in Utah?
It has always been interesting to me to hear people call for the firing of Jerry Sloan.
Some say he is too old. Others say that he doesn’t know how to manage players’ minutes on the court. Another popular argument is he won’t play rookies. All of these arguments seem odd, and off target to me.
Yet, this vocal group of Jazz fans is waiting for the day when Sloan will retire, and a new coach will take over the team. The logic of these fans is simply any change will be good change for the Jazz.
He is a coaching legend, now a Hall of Fame coach, and it is shocking that he has never won the Coach of the Year award.
Sloan isn’t perfect, but what coach ever has been? Sloan does have a resume to backup why the Jazz keep him around.
In 21 seasons as head coach of the Jazz, he has led the Jazz to the playoffs in all but three of them. Sloan has only has a single losing season with the Jazz since taking over in 1989. He also orchestrated the rebuilding of the Jazz after Stockton and Malone left.
It is clears that his strengths greatly outweigh his weaknesses.
Here is a top five reasons Jazz fans should like the way Sloan runs the Jazz.
Jerry Sloan has an offensive system.
Watching other teams around the NBA is eye opening to see the importance of having an offensive system.
All teams technically have some form of an offense, most being a motion based offense without any set plays. Normally these offenses turn into nothing more than guys playing one-on-five. Players will just sit in the corner waiting for their turn to try and create something off the dribble -- instead of screening and moving away from the ball.
Not having a system also creates discord on any team. If you ever heard Matt Harpring describe playing with Allen Iverson, then you know the bitterness Harpring had playing on a non-system team. Players on the 76ers were told to give the AI the ball and get out of the way.
The system Sloan uses elevates players to play beyond their skill level. Why? It is built around getting open looks around the rim; dunks and lay-ups. His system will make any player look good who will move without the ball.
It amazes me how often other teams, most of which are perennial losers, will wonder how Jerry Sloan has been so successful? Sloan found a system which will win basketball games, and he has stuck to the principles of that system his entire coaching career.
Sloan Intimidates NBA Officials.
Sloan once compared the NBA to WWE wrestling. His point being the known wrestlers will get the preferred treatment. In the NBA you need to have a rep to get the calls.
Young players will struggle to get calls for years. Sloan is able to use his experience in the league to help his players get calls now.
Some members of the Jazz, mainly Deron Williams, are just starting to get some calls; however, they would be getting far fewer if not for Sloan.
Coach Sloan has always told his players to go about playing, and leave the arguing with the officials to Sloan.
The intensity which Sloan uses going after officials has rubbed some officials the wrong way. Steve Javey and Joey Crawford are good examples of this fact (Both officials are known for showing up popular players and coaches).
Overall, Jerry’s ability to terrify officials gives a decided advantage to the Jazz. Officials will think twice about making certain calls and facing the wrath of Sloan. Jerry has also been so hard on officials over the years he is able to push the line further on criticizing the officials.
If a player plays hard, then Jerry Sloan will reward that player.
It doesn’t matter how much money a player makes, or his credentials before coming to the Jazz, if they work hard they will play. He will play the best players, regardless of what is going on off the court. Sloan is about winning.
Jerry Sloan’s ability to let the best players play; helps players shine when they normally wouldn’t get a chance.
Bryon Russell, Shandon Anderson, Howard Eisley, and Paul Millsap are a few examples of players who worked hard and were given a chance. Sloan allowed these players to showcase their talents.
Sometimes, Sloan does get over zealous with making players prove themselves before earning playing time. Using Deron Williams as a backup point guard for the first half of his rookie season was perhaps a bad move.
Sloan is usually on target when he evaluates talent. If you were to name the players who succeed on other teams after failing to produce under Jerry the list is very small. Jerry wants to make players better.
Jerry isn’t trying to be BIGGER than his players.
He doesn’t care about awards, he doesn’t care about accolades, and he doesn’t look for an interview.
Sloan’s Hall of Fame induction speech looked very awkward. Jerry didn’t want to be giving the speech, and he was not trying to hide the fact that he hated every minute the attention of the audience was focused on him.
He freely gives credit to the players when they win, and takes blame in loses. He has admitted that his job is to make the players look good, and to have them succeed. Even when hitting large milestones he plays off his accomplishments.
After his 1,000th victory as a head coach, the crowd at the Energy Solutions Arena stood chanting Jerry’s name. How did Sloan react?
Sloan gave a slight wave that could have been mistaken for him swatting away a fly, and walked off the court. When asked about the accomplishment by the media, he side stepped the question calling the attention on him silly.
He knows that basketball is a player’s game. He has always placed the attention win or loss on his players.
Sloan still has a passion for the game and a competitive fire to win.
There is not a single night you have to ask if Sloan cares about winning the game. He does everything in his power to try to get every ounce of effort out of his players.
He tries to keep his players on an even keel. He doesn’t let them get to high after a win, or to low after a loss. He will go after an official for a bad call whether the Jazz are up or down by thirty points.
Jazz fans don’t have to worry about Sloan taking a Pat Riley like leave of absence during the season. Jerry Sloan’s teams come to play every night. That attitude comes from the top.
The pairing of Jerry Sloan and Utah Jazz has been very successful for both sides. The only thing both the Jazz and Sloan still want is an NBA title.
Jerry Sloan probably won’t win the Coach of the Year award again this year. The thing is he won’t care either way. The only thing Sloan wants to win this season is an NBA title.
Sloan is a link to the past glory of the NBA. The way Sloan is able to run a team is a dying art. There are few coaches left in the NBA who are able to establish a “my way or the highway” philosophy.
The vocal opposition of Jazz fans against Jerry Sloan will probably look back at the Sloan era with nostalgia if the Jazz become the typical small market NBA team. Small market teams do not win consistently in the NBA.
I have to believe the one major difference between the Jazz and the rest of league is Jerry Sloan.