For the longest time I have been a Jazz fan and being a Jazz fan over the past 23 years means that I have been watching a Jerry Sloan coached team. Today, Jerry Sloan announced he was resigning as head coach of the Jazz. There will be ample time to get into the reasons why, but for now I would just like to focus on the amazing, unprecedented career for Coach Sloan. In my life there has been no other comparison.
Around the time I was born in 1983, Coach Sloan started off as Scout Sloan with the Utah Jazz. He later transitioned to the role of assistant coach and by the time I was ready to enter kindergarten he had taken over as head coach of the Jazz from Frank Layden. He was successful from the start as he led the Jazz to a 55-27 record in his first full year as the head coach. He was consistently good to the point that I went from being a kindergartener to a sophomore in college without ever seeing the Jazz miss the playoffs. Think about that. My life changed in immeasurable ways, but one thing that was constant was watching Jerry Sloan lead the Jazz to the playoffs.
When John Stockton retired and Karl Malone left, many thought that this was going to be the end of the line. Things really bottomed out by the time I was graduating college as the Jazz finished a 26-56 season. They then drafted a point guard prospect out of Coach Sloan’s home state of Illinois named Deron Williams. Pairing Williams with free agents Mehmet Okur and Carlos Boozer paid dividends almost immediately. By the time I was really feeling comfortable working in corporate America, Coach Sloan had led the Jazz back to the Western Conference Finals.
It is amazing to think of how long Coach Sloan has been the head coach of the Jazz. There have been 245 coaching changes in the NBA since he became the head coach of the Jazz. There has been two trips to the NBA Finals. There have been 1,127 regular season wins. There has been a changing of the guard from Stockton/Malone to Williams/Boozer. There have been inventions in technology that have changed the world with the added side bonus of allowing people like me to share their thoughts on blogs like this. There are many, many ways to slice and dice the ways things have changed since he started. For me it comes down to the fact that you can chart certain milestones in my life with the career of Coach Sloan.
Thank you Coach Sloan for being a Hall of Fame coach for the Jazz. You will be missed.