Sloan turned crap into gold: I smell Coach of the Year (The Great Debate)

I have never been a Jazz fan. Ever.

In fact, I formerly prided myself on hating the team.

But there is no way that Jerry Sloan didn’t deserve the Coach of the Year award this year.

And as much as I don’t want to say that Sloan deserved it even more so this year for all the previous years he’s been shafted, I’m going to anyway.

Of the 19 straight trips the Jazz made to the playoffs (a streak that ended this year), Sloan was responsible for leading the team to 15 of them, not to mention two trips to the NBA Finals in which his Jazz provided arguably the toughest competition for the MJ dynasty.

But we’re not talking about rewarding a man for a career of unbelievable feats in which he’s received no recognition.

We’re talking about this season, right?

That Jerry Sloan was in contention the whole time is apparent by the discrepancy in voting totals. The Grizzlies’ Hubie Brown edged out his only competitor by a count of 466 to Sloan’s 424, with Brown collecting 62 of the 122 first-place votes. Sloan got 56. The next two closest each received one first-place vote.

If someone would have asked Brown, he’d have said he would have voted for Sloan, too.

If you think he said that because he’s a good sport, you’re right. If you think that’s the only reason he said it, then you’re also stupid.

Sloan was shrugged off for 15 seasons from COY honors because he had future Hall of Famers Karl Malone and John Stockton on his team. Not that Phil Jackson didn’t ever receive the trophy after coaching the likes of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and more-oh, he did.

But not Sloan. Sloan would have to prove his worth in other ways.

Plus, he had to overcome the 70 year-old cadaver Brown, who really showed what he was worth this year. He took a team that had never won 30 games in its history and turned it around to win 50 games and its first ever playoff berth.

And the numbers don’t tell even half of the story. A deserving coach? Yeah, you could say that.

Interestingly enough, in a Western Conference that makes its counterpart look like a JV high school tournament, Sloan was unable to lead his team to the playoffs for the first time in 16 years, since he took the helm in December 1988. But that doesn’t say anything about what he did accomplish this year, either.

A team that was predicted to compete with local Junior Jazz teams and win 10 games if they were lucky or a fatal disease killed off entire teams put up 42 wins on the year, eight less than Brown’s boys.

Yeah, he missed the playoffs. By one game.

Oh, not to mention that the Grizzlies, as amazing as their accomplishments were, had seven former lottery picks and a very fair amount of talent.

The Jazz had garbage. That’s what Sloan does, though. He makes garbage look like gold. He did before and he did it again. Bryon Russell used to demand some attention in Utah-not because he was any good or deserved it, but because of what Jerry Sloan is able to get out of his players.

This year? Raja Bell was up for Sixth Man of the Year against people like Antawn Jamison. Raja Freaking Bell. It didn’t even matter that Matt Harpring was injured for as long as he was. This is Jerry Sloan we’re talking about. The Jazz were the only team in the Midwest Division to not make the playoffs, and they were one game off. When the last-place team in the division is fighting for a spot in the playoffs and comes up a game shy, you look for something special, and if the roster has nothing for you, look no further than the coach.

I know Hubie was amazing in keeping multiple young egos in check as well, but for the love of all things, have you seen Utah’s roster? I feel like you could suit me up with four of my friends and we might come up with a winning record if Sloan coached us.

The Grizzlies did something unheard of this year. And Hubie Brown is one hell of a coach. But if you want to recognize the right person in Memphis, give an award to Jerry West.

There’s the genius.

If you want to recognize a coach who not only does the absolute best with what he’s got, but makes you notice as well, give it to Sloan.

Oh yeah, too late. No worries, though. He’s big enough not to care.

[email protected]