I was caught off guard. A swift uppercut hit me square in the solar plexus and I immediately doubled over. I couldn’t breathe. I was disoriented. My eyes welled up with tears. The world around me was just awkward shapes and colors. I did the only thing I knew how to do. I checked ESPN.com to see if the rumor was true…
You see, after hopping on Facebook to post a rare non-sarcastic comment, I briefly scanned down my friends entries, and came upon this:
“Thank you, Jerry. You did more with less than any coach in history.”
After 23 years, Jerry Sloan has decided to step down as head coach of my beloved Utah Jazz. Right now, I’m having trouble processing this information. My brain is stuck in that annoying little hourglass that pops up on your computer screen when you’re trying to look at porn look at spreadsheets. I need to talk. I need to vent. And then I realized, “Wait a second, I run a blog that I’ve largely been ignoring for two months!”
A small aside: for those of you who have been missing the Agents, I assure you, we are still here, but just very lazy. Stay tuned for future blogs, with 15% more nudity and 18% less funny. So, with that being said, release the Kraken…
Coach Sloan was the last stalwart of the team from my childhood. A team which featured the greatest NBA player to ever wrestle Hollywood Hulk Hogan. A team which featured the best point guard of all time, but doesn’t get the respect he deserves because he wore short shorts and well… he’s white. And a team which featured a man who never wanted individual accolades, who only cared about winning, and valued hard work and effort over skills and talents.
I try to give professional athletes the benefit of the doubt. They make millions of dollars to play children’s games, and have been coddled since Jr. High. It would be extremely difficult to not end up being kind of a D-Bag. I’d hear that Plaxico shot himself in the leg, or that Allen Iverson isn’t a big fan of practice, but that’s ok. Because I knew that MY coach, Coach Sloan, was teaching his boys how to be men. How to play basketball the right way…
Now? Who knows… All good things must come to end, but honestly I wasn’t ready. I guess the best way to describe it, is when you break up with someone. Whether you are the dumper, or the dumpee, it doesn’t matter. That door closes behind them as they walk out of your life, you look around, and say, “Well… now what do I do?” I don’t even know whether the Jazz can be my team anymore. The Utah Jazz are Jerry Sloan. And now? They’re an average basketball team that plays about 1200 miles away from me.
I feel empty, I feel sad, and I think I feel hungry. So while I drown my sorrows in 6 chili cheese dogs with a pretzel bun, I’ll leave you with my favorite Jerry Sloan story:
Chris Webber during Game 2 of the 1999 Playoff match-up between the Utah Jazz and the Sacramento Kings (on the Petros and Money Radio Show)
“Man, one time I set a pick on (John) Stockton and I knocked Stockton to the ground and I gave him a shoulder. And I’m really cool with Stockton but I was trying to show the rest of the team like I’m going to get the technical, you guys. I’ll be the bad guy, come on. Well, Stockton kind of laughed. I laughed. I looked at the bench and Sloan looked at me.
I said, ‘You want some?’ He was like, ‘Damn right I want some.’
He started walking toward me. So, you know, it’s a good thing there was a ref there because, hey, he’s one of the toughest guys in the league. I don’t want to fight that guy. So, I’ll tell you, when your team is led by one of the toughest guys in the league, your team is going to be tough.”
Thank you, Jerry. You did more with less than any coach in history…