Jerry Sloan Retires as Head Coach of the Utah Jazz: The End of an Era

David LynnCorrespondent IFebruary 10, 2011

ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 12:  Head coach Jerry Sloan of the Utah Jazz against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on November 12, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

This truly is the end of an era.

Jerry Sloan was the last coach in professional sports that could have stayed as long as he wanted. It was the unique combination of a quality coach and an organization that was willing to stand by their guy through good and bad.

There was definitely some bad, but for the most part it was an amazing run.

Jerry Sloan was the greatest coach that I have ever seen, and let me emphasize the word "coach". 

He was not merely a manager of great players, or someone who showed up at just the right time and rode a perfect storm to temporary success. 

He found great success while coaching arguably the most complimentary teammates in NBA history. While John Stockton and Karl Malone were never in the spotlight like Pippen and Jordan or Magic and Kareem, there could not have been a better tandem who helped each other to success.

Sloan did an amazing job coaching them into a well-oiled machine, adding in whatever complimentary pieces he may have had in any given year. He took players like Bryon Russel and Jeff Hornacek and worked them into the most predictable offense I have ever seen in any sport, and they still succeeded.

During their heyday there was no doubt that 75-90 percent of the plays Utah ran would be pick-and-rolls.

But Sloan coached them so well that you just couldn’t stop it.

Their success was a result of their excellent abilities being applied to a beautiful system by a brilliant teacher of fundamentals.

What truly shows Sloan’s greatness is the success he had in years when no one expected anything of the Jazz. He did not always have superstar players, but he found a way to win.

In 23 seasons with the Jazz, he had one losing season.

He taught fundamentals and intensity, and if you didn’t have that, he didn’t want you. It wasn’t that he didn’t appreciate great athletic ability; it was that he believed in the game in its purest sense. 

Say what you want about other coaches and their style and success, but there is no other coach I would have rather had lead my team.  He was an old-school, class act that I would have been happy to see coach until the day he died. It was an honor to have watched the fruits of his abilities and I wish him the best.

Thanks for all the success Coach Sloan.

You will be missed.