In breaking—and extremely surprising—news today out of Utah, Jerry Sloan will resign as Utah Jazz coach effective immediately. The move will be officially announced at a press conference later today. Along with Sloan, longtime assistant Phil Johnson will also reportedly resign. Ty Corbin (assistant coach) is expected to be announced as his interim replacement.
Sloan has been the longest tenured coach in any pro sport for many years now. He is a widely respected coach throughout the league and profession and will be dearly missed by the sport. He began working as a scout for the Jazz in 1983 (after three years as the Bulls' head coach) and was named their head coach in 1988, a position he has held since.
Throughout that time, Sloan has amassed 1,221 wins with a 60.3 percent winning percentage (For those of you without a calculator handy, that's 803 losses.). Prior to coaching, Sloan played 11 seasons in the NBA, primarily with Chicago, where he averaged about 14 point and five rebounds per game.
Many are speculating Sloan's resignation as a direct reaction to last night's loss to the Bulls. According to many reporters—namely the Salt Lake City Tribune—Sloan was visibly shaken after the game. He kept reporters waiting more than a half hour for his press conference after the game, citing the reason as a meeting with general manager Kevin O'Connor.
Many even speculate more specifically that the resignation is due to issues between Sloan and super star point guard Deron Williams, with whom he had several very obvious disagreements and interchanges with during the game last night.
Today's news is a tragedy in that this is not the way a hall of fame coaching career should end. Sloan has been a fixture in Utah throughout the years, and if in fact a disagreement with a player —or a bad game against many of his former players—is what finally drove him out of Utah, that's a shame.
However, as Jeff Fisher (once the longest tenured NFL coach in the league) recently said after his own job came to an end "I've been coaching for 25 years, and it's time. I need a break."
At some point, you just get that feeling.
23 years after accepting the head coach position in Utah, 28 years after beginning in Utah as a scout, and 31 years after taking his first head coaching position (not to mention 45 years after joining the league at all), Jerry Sloan just may be able to relate to Jeff Fisher. Perhaps at the end of the day an argument with a star point guard, a tough loss to your ex-players, perhaps all of these things were just what showed Jerry Sloan just how tired he is.
No matter what, we wish him the best as one of the most respected coaches in the history of the league.
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