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Sports Then and Now

Jerry Sloan Resignation Is End of an Era

Posted on February 11, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Jerry Sloan spent years leading superstar guards, including Jeff Hornacek and John Stockton...

When Jerry Sloan took over the reins of the Utah Jazz on December 9, 1988, Ronald Reagan was President of the United States, the television classic Seinfeld was still months from hitting the airwaves and surfing the web was a term still years from having a meaning.

In the NBA, Michael Jordan was coming off his first MVP season, but was still two and a half years away from winning his first NBA Championship. Magic Johnson and the Lakers were trying (unsuccessfully it would turn out) for an NBA three-peat and 40 players who would be on NBA rosters in 2011 weren’t yet born.

Much changed in the ensuing 23 seasons, but the one constant in the NBA was that Sloan would be on the sidelines for the Jazz and that Utah would have a hard-working team built on fundamentals and a team philosophy.

Before announcing his resignation on Thursday, Sloan was the longest tenured coach with one organization in any of the four major professional sports. During his time leading the Jazz, the NBA had 245 coaching changes, including 13 alone by the Los Angeles Clippers.

When Sloan moved from his role as assistant to Frank Layden to the head coaching chair, John Stockton and Karl Malone were both already on the roster and developing into Hall of Famers.

Sloan cultivated their abilities and used the supporting cast to make the Jazz into a consistent winner that finished with a losing record only once in his tenure. They reached the playoffs 19 times, including a pair of trips to the NBA Finals.

Though Sloan never was able to lead Utah to an NBA Championship, he did annually have the Jazz in the equation for a conference and NBA title. His squads won 50 or more games 13 times and they played for the Western Conference title six times.

During his 23 seasons in Utah, the Jazz won 1,127 regular season game. His career total of 1,221 victories is the third highest total of all-time. well as current Jazz star Deron Williams.

With Sloan now gone, the coach in the NBA who has been with his current team the longest is Greg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs. Popovich started his tenure in San Antonio eight years and a day after Sloan took over the Jazz.

Interestingly, after Popovich, the coach in the league with the longest tenure with his current team is Doc Rivers, who is in his seventh season leading the Celtics.

While some may consider his record incomplete since he never hoisted the NBA Championship Trophy, Sloan is already in the Basketball Hall of Fame and will always be considered among the great coaches in league history.

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