For close to 23 seasons, Jerry Sloan has been the head coach of the Utah Jazz but that tenure is coming to an end as Sloan will resign this week according to the Salt Lake Tribune. Sloan agreed to a one-year contract extension on Monday, so the news comes as a shock to the organization. Assistant coach Phil Johnson will also resign effective immediately.
The 68-year-old Sloan was the longest-tenured head coach in any of the four major sports and the Jazz tried to convince him to change his mind but it was no use. Now, assistant coach Tyrone Corbin will take over the team.
The Jazz are currently sixth in the Western Conference at 31-23 but have been on a skid recently losing 10 of their last 14 games. Their most recent loss, a 91-86 loss at home to the Chicago Bulls seemed to be the last straw for Sloan as he and Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor became involved in a heated discussion. They spent more than 30 minutes behind closed doors before Sloan addressed the media after the loss. Sloan normally speaks with reporters about 10 minutes after the final buzzer.
ESPN reported that Sloan reacted angrily during the loss when guard Deron Williams called his own play on the floor different from that which Sloan had drawn up. It led to an emotional dispute at halftime, which was followed by the closed-door meeting.
In his post game press conference, Sloan seemed to be himself, knowing he had coached his final game for the Jazz.
“We’re looking to try to make our team hopefully better on the floor [and want] guys [to] accept the responsibility that it takes to be good every day,” he said.
Sloan started his career with the Jazz as a scout during the 1983-84 season and one year later was named an assistant. He led Utah to the NBA Finals twice, losing to the Bulls both times. He is the only coach in history to win 1,000 games with one team, which he accomplished earlier this season against Oklahoma City.
His departure from the Jazz comes two weeks after the second-longest tenured professional coach, Jeff Fisher, decided to leave the the Tennessee Titans.