Wednesday, February 16, 2011

So Long Sloan

Thursday February 10, 2011 was a solemn day in professional sports.  Not only was I shocked by the news that Jerry Sloan would be stepping down from his seemingly permanent post as the head coach of the Utah Jazz, I was also saddened.  See, I djs2on’t really know what life is like without Sloan operating as the commanding officer of the Jazz. 

I was born in 1987.  Jerry became the head coach of the Jazz in 1988, but had been with the team for several seasons beforehand.  So basically, my entire life, for literally as long as I can remember, Sloan had been a staple on the Utah sideline.  Jerry Sloan was the Utah Jazz.  Other things changed, but not that.  Players, coaches, and even entire franchises have came and gone, but Jerry’s consistency could be counted on.  I changed also, as I went through the unavoidable ups and downs of adolescence, graduated college, and grew up, and all the while Sloan soldiered on, pushing out a playoff-bound product year after year.

Not enough people will be disheartened by this development because not enough people appreciated him while he was active.  He wasn’t overtly loud (maybe Stan Van could take a page out of Sloan’s script on that one), he wasn’t flashy.  No, he was just a consistent winner; winning both the respect of his players and enough basketball games to produce two decades of successful seasons and playoff appearances in js1Utah.  For all his accomplishments it is unfortunate that many will mar him for his lack of a championship.  It is possible that Sloan was even underappreciated by the League itself, as he was unable to secure a single Coach of the Year Award on his way to becoming the NBA’s third all-time winningest coach.

The circumstances surrounding Sloan’s departure are mysterious, as it seems out of character for the man to abandon his mission mid-season.  Whatever the case, quite a legacy was left, as Sloan was well-respected and appreciated by players and peers alike.  Such loyalty and continued consistency is uncommon in professional sports these days, and although everything must eventually come to and end, that consistency will certainly be missed on the sidelines in Salt Lake City, rings or not. 

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