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Jerry Sloan's coaching career included 1,221 wins which is third all-time in NBA coaching wins - Chicago Bulls 1969 publicity photo




James Loving - National Radio Text Service


Last week K.C. Jones and Jerry Sloan, two of the most impact and successful coaches in NBA history, were the co-recipients of the 2016 "Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award," by the National Basketball Coaches Association


Saturday, June 18, 2016


As a journalist you encounter all types of personalities. Some experiences are good and some bad. Having come from a journalist background of interviewing music, film and TV stars they are most likely to have a good attitude and put their best foot forward since they are promoting an album, film or TV show.

It was quite different when I first got involved in covering sports which came about merely by accident as a result of an interview with Frank Gifford promoting Monday Night Football for the ABC television network. At that time my job was to report on the entertainment industry.

Early on I was warned by fellow sports journalists that the most difficult athletes to interview were baseball players since they were, for the most part the least educated.

I found an exception to that perceived rule in several interviews with MLB (Major League Baseball) Hall of Fame player Nolan Ryan.

As a guest on sports talk radio show in Las Vegas, Nevada that was heard in every state west of the Rocky Mountains the host asked me who my favorite interview was and Ryan's name jumped out of my mouth since it was done a week earlier.

After the show former UCLA University basketball coach John Wooden came to mind. Michael Jordan, who at the time of the radio show I had yet to interview, made that list.

Coaches are usually the last people that come to mind when asked a question of your most favorite sports person that one interviewed.

Last week K.C. Jones and Jerry Sloan, two of the most impact and successful coaches in NBA history, were the co-recipients of the 2016 "Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award," by the National Basketball Coaches Association.

Former recipients are in 2009 Tom Heinsohn; in 2010, there were co-recipients, Tex Winter and Jack Ramsay; in '11,Lenny Wilkens; 2012, Pat Riley; 2013, Bill Fitch; Bernie Bickerstaff in 2014; and last year, Dick Motta.

Of all of those mentioned I had the pleasure of interviewing except Bickerstaff and Winter. In part that was due to them being involved with the Los Angeles Lakers staff. The Lakers proved to be a thorn in my side and eventually cost me a lot of money.

K.C. Jones was the first coach that I had interviewed at length during my first year covering the NBA. It was at a practice session (as I recall). He came up and sat down with me in the press area of the stands at the LA Sports Arena and we talked for about a half hour. I was shocked how personable, honest and open he was.

I wasn't a fan of him or the Celtics since I'm from Philadelphia and the Celtics dominated our Warriors and 76ers the teams that represented the city of brotherly love and the home of the Rocky films.

At the Awards current Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle who played for Jones for three years and was a member of Jones' 1986 NBA title winning Celtics team said of his former coach. "K.C. was a 12-time NBA champion - eight times as a player, twice as an assistant, twice as a head coach. His 67% winning percentage is in the top two or three in NBA history. He was a six-time All-Star coach.

And I believe he may be the only person in history to have won an NCAA title, an Olympic gold medal, an NBA Championship and then coached an NBA Championship. So in terms of winning, I mean, this guy's one of the all-time winners.

"And what I can tell you is from my experience being with him for three years and being part of a championship team in '86 and being around guys like Larry Bird and Kevin McHale and Robert Parish and Dennis Johnson and Ainge and Bill Walton and guys like that, K.C. had an amazing way of getting the most out of his players, but doing it in a very distinguished and gentlemanly way. Because of that, he had the utmost respect from his players and always got the very best out of them."

What is little known about Jones is that being a great athlete he was also drafted by the NFL's Los Angeles Rams to play professional football.

Jerry Sloan is another positive recall of coaches I've interviewed. Sloan always seemed to be very intense but always polite. He is one of the best NBA coaches never to win an NBA title.

My most memorable moment about Sloan is the difficulty he had with his then star player Deron Williams. There was a personality clash and Williams seemed to always be on Sloan's case, complaining or creating problems for one of the nicest coaches the NBA has ever had.

Williams attitude didn't make sense and Sloan later departed the job that he loved. The question is how much did Williams factor into Sloan's decision to retire?

Jerry Sloan's career is phenomenal. He has 1,221 wins, over 1,000 with the Jazz, which is an amazing accomplishment. 1,221 is third all-time in wins. And he has had a 23-year run coaching one place in the NBA, which is in these days is a phenomenal, phenomenal achievement. He had a run of 16 consecutive playoff teams in Utah.

As a player Sloan averaged 14 ppg during his 11 year playing career. At that time considered a tall man for a guard at 6'5". He was tenacious using his height to have a 7.4 career rebound per game average including a career high 9.1 during his second season in the league and first with the expansion Chicago Bulls in the 1966-67 season.

Sloan said of the 66-67 Bulls team, "We were a unique group of guys because we weren't that talented, but we were the only team in sports that had made the Playoffs as an expansion team. I was always very proud of that because we got along together, we worked together. And Johnny "Red" Kerr was a freshly new coach, relatively new coach, anyway.

Sloan and Kerr were teammates with the Baltimore Bullets during Sloan's rookie season. Regarding Kerr Sloan said told him, "If I get the job in Chicago, I'm going to take you with me." The chemistry resulted in a winning one as the new faces that made up of the new Bulls franchise went on the create a place in NBA history bring the first expansion team to qualify for the NBA playoffs.

A great deal of Sloan's coaching success was due to coaching the Dynamic Duo of Hall of Fame players Karl Malone and John Stockton. To a large extent Sloan's knowledge and experience playing guard in the NBA he instilled in Stockton who is one of the leagues all time stats leaders for guards.

Ironically three of the greatest players including Sloan as a coach never were a member of an NBA title winning team.

The NBA got it right in awarding two outstanding coaches for their achievements BUT more importantly two of the nicest people one could ever meet.

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