Finally Time for Jerry Sloan To Step Down?
Arguably the most distinguished head coach to have never won the Coach of the Year. Not to mention, one of the NBA's most prolific and hard-nosed coaches.
But is now the time for Jerry to take a seat and let the Jazz move on without him?
I, along with many other Jazz fans, believe that Sloan was a crucial piece to Utah's success over the last few decades, and without him, the organization may have been in serious trouble keeping together a decent team.
That said, things are starting to look ever more bleak for a coach that has always given his all for the Jazz.
Jerry is coaching in a different era, and while a team coached by Sloan will always have the same integrity, intensity, and work ethic as they have in the past, they will also have fatal flaws that will harm them down the stretch of a season.
First, let's look at Sloan's actual coaching mindset.
There is a point in every season, hell, even every game, where his team starts to fade and lose its lead or motivation.
Jerry has never altered the times in which stars like Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer enter and exit the game. In fact, he has a certain point at the end of the first quarter and the end of the third quarter where he always pulls the plug on D-Will.
Look, this may be nit-picky, but there is a reason why the Jazz fade at the end of the third quarter of every game.
Every season I go to as many games as I can. What I have noticed recently is that teams like the New Orleans Hornets with Chris Paul and the Denver Nuggets with Chauncey Billups don't ever have slotted times in which to sub their players.
Sloan does. It's part of his commitment to a steady and conservative approach to the game, which is starting to look a little too conservative.
Secondly, it's important to note the defensive mindset of almost every Jazz team that Sloan has coached.
For years he has been a major proponent of disregarding the three, and focusing closely on the perimeter jumper, something that worked in the past and in the early '90s with the aggressive and physical play of the NBA.
In today's game, players are babysat by refs and the three ball is looking ever more appealing to a lot of teams who struggle to get the ball inside. This is a change that Jerry has refused to accept or even acknowledge, reiterating why the Jazz give up more threes than almost anyone on defense.
Finally, Sloan just hasn't succeeded with the current Jazz team as well as he could have.
With players like D-Will and Boozer, Sloan should have been able to take this team further than he did in the playoffs and re-energize the intensity in the locker room.
While Boozer, Okur, and Kirilenko all suffered serious injuries towards the end of the season, the Jazz had a very legitimate chance at reaching a higher seed in the playoffs, and lost (while being fully healthy) to Golden State and Minnesota down the stretch.
To me this was the most disappointing moment in Utah's season, because although the Jazz had struggled with injuries, they were fully healthy, and two good wins against the Warriors and the Timberwolves could have solidified even the sixth spot in the West.
Jerry has just not done as well as Jazz fans would have liked to have seen with this current team. He has had issues with guys like Boozer and hasn't got the Jazz focusing as a collective unit instead of a bunch of individual players.
Back in the day with Stockton at the helm, Sloan didn't have to worry about being a player's coach because the team had arguably the greatest leadership and character in the history of the NBA.
Nowadays, Sloan has to change his mindset and approach to the game in order to get the current team back on track—something he will not do.
All this aside, Jerry Sloan is truly a fantastic coach.
Almost any Jazz fan will tell you that behind Stockton and Malone, Sloan is right up there as the most important aspect of the team over the last several years.
While Sloan has done a great job rebuilding the team with the selection of Deron Williams in 2005, the Jazz are still a long way from reaching the pinnacle of their recent achievements.
Additionally, there is no one I respect more than Sloan.
It is refreshing to know that the coach of your team cares just as much about the success of his players than even the most die-hard fan, something Sloan has prided himself on for years.
Also, Jerry has had a knack for being one of the most gracious individuals on the planet, and has been extremely beneficial for the community of Utah in general.
However, time has passed, and while Sloan has done so many great things with the Jazz, it may be his time to finally move on.
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