The Utah Jazz announced Thursday that head coach Jerry Sloan and assistant coach Phil Johnson have resigned their positions, effective immediately. In a related announcement, the Jazz also announced that assistant coach Tyrone Corbin has been named head coach of the team. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not released.
“It is with great sadness that we have accepted Jerry and Phil’s resignations today. Larry and I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for both of them, the way they have handled the team, represented our franchise and held the values of our organization and community,” said Utah Jazz Owner Gail Miller. “Larry and I always gave our coaches maximum support to ensure that they knew they were in charge of the team, not management, the media, fans or players.”
Sloan had been Utah’s head coach since assuming the reigns from former head coach Frank Layden on December 9, 1988. The third-winningest coach in NBA history (1,221-803, .603), Sloan was the longest-tenured active coach with one team in major professional sports, as well as the longest-tenured head coach in NBA history. Sloan is the only NBA head coach to win 1,000 games with one team (1,127-682, .623 with Jazz) and ranked 347 wins ahead of San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich for the most wins with one team among active coaches.
Over his 23 seasons at the helm, Sloan guided the Jazz to 19 playoff appearances, two NBA Finals (1997, 1998), seven division titles, a streak of 16 consecutive winning seasons (1988-2004), 13 seasons with 50-plus wins and three with 60-plus wins, while suffering only one losing season. Sloan was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on September 11, 2009.
“Jerry has proven again and again, that he is a Hall of Fame coach. His consistency, discipline and work ethic are cornerstones to his success,” said Greg Miller, CEO of the Utah Jazz. “Jerry’s departure is entirely his decision and as unpleasantly as it is for me personally, I respect his decision to leave the franchise at this time. In addition, Phil has had a tremendous impact on our franchise as an assistant coach by partnering with Jerry and stepping up to the head coaching role as needed over the years.”
Since Sloan’s hiring there have been a total of 245 coaching changes in the NBA (including interim coaches), with every team in the league aside from Utah making at least two changes. In addition, five current NBA teams (Bobcats, Grizzlies, Raptors, Magic, Timberwolves) did not exist when Sloan took the reins in Utah, and two others (Heat, Hornets) were just over a month into their inaugural seasons. Sloan coached 132 different Jazz players in regular season games during his tenure.
“Jerry and Phil have coached the Utah Jazz for more than 23 years,” said President of the Utah Jazz, Randy Rigby. “Both have been a tremendous asset to our team both on and off the court. They consistently supported the efforts of the front office through visits with our season ticket holders, sponsors and fans through community appearances. We are grateful for their legacy.”
Sloan originally joined the Jazz as a scout during the 1983-84 season, then following a brief stint as a head coach in the Continental Basketball Association, re-joined the Jazz as an assistant coach to Frank Layden on November 19, 1984, where he remained until being promoted to head coach following Layden’s resignation in December of 1988.
Prior to joining the Jazz, Sloan served as head coach of the Chicago Bulls from 1979-82 following an 11-year playing career with Baltimore and Chicago, during which he was twice selected an NBA All-Star.
Johnson teamed with Sloan as his top assistant for all 23 of his seasons coaching the Jazz. A former NBA Coach of the Year, Johnson has been widely acknowledged as one of the premier basketball coaches in the sport and was named the league’s top assistant prior to the 2005-06, 2007-08 and 2010-11 seasons.
Johnson’s working relationship with Sloan began more than three decades ago when he coached Sloan as an assistant under Dick Motta for the Chicago Bulls from 1971-74. Following three years with the Bulls, Johnson earned his first NBA head coaching duties at the age of 32 with the Kansas City-Omaha Kings. Johnson later reunited with Sloan in Chicago, becoming his assistant coach prior to the 1979-80 season. The two worked together through the end of Sloan’s tenure with the Bulls midway through the 1981-82 season. Johnson would then join the Jazz as an assistant in 1982 where he stayed before returning to the Kings in 1984 as head coach. In December of 1988, Sloan and Johnson again came together when Johnson joined Utah’s staff as an assistant where he had remained ever since.
“Coach and Phil are synonymous with the success of the Utah Jazz,” said Utah Jazz General Manager Kevin O’Connor. “Working with them throughout my time with the Jazz has been a very special experience. They are consummate professionals and competitors, and I am very grateful for all they have given to the organization.”
Corbin becomes head coach of the Utah Jazz after serving as an assistant under Sloan since the 2004-05 season. He becomes the seventh head coach in Jazz history and the fourth head coach since the franchise’s relocation to Utah. Prior to the 2010-11 season, Corbin ranked second in voting for the NBA’s top assistant coach as selected by league general managers (behind only Phil Johnson). Corbin joined the Jazz after spending the 2003-04 season as manager of player development for the New York Knicks. Prior to his stint with the Knicks, he spent two seasons as a player mentor for the North Charleston Lowgators of the NBA Development League.
“I am thankful that we have a person of Tyrone Corbin’s character to assume the position of head coach of the Utah Jazz. Ty has demonstrated an understanding of what our franchise stands for,” said Greg Miller.
A native of South Carolina, Corbin played for nine teams during a 16-year NBA career (1985-01), including three seasons with the Jazz from 1991-94, where he averaged 9.6 points and 6.2 rebounds in 233 games. Corbin appeared in a total of 1,050 games over the course of his career that included stints with San Antonio, Cleveland, Phoenix, Minnesota, Utah, Atlanta, Sacramento, Miami and Toronto. Corbin was originally drafted by San Antonio in the second round (35th pick overall) of the 1985 NBA Draft out of DePaul University.
Corbin will make his NBA head coaching debut on Friday, February 11 against the Phoenix Suns at EnergySolutions Arena.