If Sloan still wants to coach, more power to him

May 26 2012 - 6:30pm


As I type these words, it's Saturday morning and former Jazzman Matt Harpring just sent out a tweet that made me LOL.

(Don't know what any of the above really means? Don't feel bad, it's just an inside joke poking fun at those of us who enjoy social media a little too much.)

Anyway ... Harpring used his Twitter account to send out the following message: "Bobcats interview w Sloan should have gone like, please Mr Sloan, help us. Please, please, please be interested in coaching our team"

See what I mean? Laugh-out-loud stuff from a guy whose game personified his former coach, Jerry Sloan. Ironically, there was nothing funny about the way Harpring played or Sloan coached. On the floor or on the bench, both men brought an intensity to the game that didn't always sit well with their opponents. That particular style wasn't always appreciated, but it was always respected.

While Harpring has retired and picked up the broadcasting game, we're now seeing that Sloan, apparently, isn't ready to move on.

Last week reports surfaced indicating the 70-year-old former NBA player, assistant and head coach still has an itch he needs to scratch.

On Friday, representatives from the Charlotte Bobcats -- including owner Michael Jordan -- visited Sloan here in Utah. Their purpose? To see if he might be a good fit for a team that went an NBA-worst 7-59 last season.

"They might come back, they might not," Sloan told the Deseret News. "I can't judge that. We'll just have to wait and see where it goes from there."

Classic Sloan, no? Just as matter-of-fact as a sunrise.

At first glance, it seems strange he still wants to coach. Shoot, we all thought he would retire a decade ago, but he hung around as long as he could. He finally had enough back in February 2011 when, after a few well-publicized arguments with point guard Deron Williams, he decided to resign after 23 seasons with the Jazz.

Even back then it seemed Sloan wasn't completely rid of the game he loves. Sure, he looked tired and worn out, but I always felt that had more to do with the run-ins than anything else. I sensed he had grown weary of defending his way of doing things to players who just didn't want to listen anymore. I think he felt Williams' derision had undermined his effectiveness as a coach, so he decided to resign ... not retire.

For a year or so we've been hearing rumors that perhaps he wanted to coach again, but until last week it was all smoke and no fire. Then came quotes from him saying, "I felt like I needed to get away from basketball. I worked (26) years (as a head coach). It was time for me to move on and see what was going in the world. That's been kind of interesting. But I still have that void of basketball."

He was linked to the vacancy in Charlotte, then Orlando. Then came news that Jordan and Co. were coming to Utah to have a chat. His Airness, in Utah? Talking with Sloan about taking over a seven-win team?

What the ... ?

Look, Sloan doesn't owe anybody anything. He's a Hall of Famer, and his legacy is as secure as granite. If he feels coaching is still in his blood and a team really wants him, it's his decision to make.

Personally, I'd love to see him coach again simply because I'm curious to see if he can still influence young players. I suspect he can.

I never felt Sloan got his due here in Utah, but I knew others around the league had tremendous respect for him. The fact that other teams are still interested already validates his credentials, but can you imagine him going to a team like the Bobcats and actually having some success with them?


Jim Burton is the Standard-Examiner's sports columnist. He also covers the Utah Jazz and the NBA. He can be reached at 801-625-4265 or at jburton@standard.net. He tweets at http://twitter.com/jmb247

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