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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Hall of Fame recognition for Sloan still overdue

By Nick Pappas

Jerry Sloan is a hard guy to figure out.

He talks with the drawl of a farmer, as if he’d be more comfortable with a piece of straw hanging out of his mouth. He’s not suave and GQ like Pat Riley. He’s the polar opposite of Phil Jackson8212;he probably thinks a “Zen Master” is a brand of washing machine.

But with all those coaches, the common factor is winning8212;and Sloan wins in droves.

He has brought wins to small-market Utah for 20 years and his consistency recently put him in the Hall of Fame alongside names such as Jackson, Riley, Larry Brown and Red Auerbach.

More than 1,000 wins and 20 years with one franchise8212;think about that. I was still wetting the bed when Sloan took the reins.

There are many students here who weren’t even born when Sloan first yelled his gravelly yell and pointed at referees on Utah’s home floor. Young Jazz fans who grew up in the suburbs surrounded by the Wasatch Mountains have never known a life without Sloan on the sidelines.

Since he was hired in 1988, there have been 227 coaching changes in the NBA. Every other team has changed coaches at least twice.

Sure, he’s never won the Coach of the Year, but then again, most of those who display the trophy on their mantle have already been fired.

There are a hundred stories out there juggling gaudy numbers8212;123 different Jazz players coached, 17 consecutive winning seasons, 18 playoff appearances8212;but it’s still not enough to silence the critics.

I would call myself an educated fan. There isn’t a team that I watch with a logic blindfold like many rabid fans. I’m not a fan who believes the team can win a championship this year. I think Deron Williams is better than Chris Paul, but I wouldn’t put him on the level of, say, our Lord and Savior.

Still, I will stand by the crazy old coach until he falls dead on the hardwood. His critics, though, think consistent winning seasons isn’t nearly enough.

Here is just a sampling of comments from The Salt Lake Tribune message boards:

“Sloan’s offense is predictable and ineffective. Sloan is stuck in his ways and is willing to unchange.” (Is unchange a word?)

“He will always be able to get into the playoffs, but he will never win a title. I don’t hate Jerry, but Jazz fans deserve better.”

“He is slipping mentally and should ride his tractor into the sunset.”

Whenever armchair coaches take their chairs out of reclining position and harp on Sloan, I will always go back to 2003-2004. ESPN predicted the Jazz would have the worst season in NBA history.

Yes, worse than the 1972 Philadelphia 76ers, who went 9-73.

The starters were Andrei Kirilenko, Greg Ostertag, Tom Gugliotta, Gordan Giricek and Carlos Arroyo.

Stockton and Malone disappeared from the previous year, five other players hit the road and the rest were the nasty leftovers from the offseason barbecue. The Jazz finished 42-40. The one thing that remained constant was Jerry Sloan.

Hand the 2003-2004 Jazz team to the “Zen Master” and he would meditate his way to a 30-win season. Force that roster on any coach in the league and he would have been booted by December. For that season alone, Sloan deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

Critics cry championships, but only seven cities have won a championship in the past 20 years. Every other market has had to go through terrible seasons, multiple coaches and inconsistent play.

Given the choice, I would take 20 years of contention. Count your blessings for Jerry Sloan.

Without him, there would be no Utah Jazz.

[email protected]

Nick Pappas

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