Re: Jerry Sloan steps down, leaves Utah Jazz! Era is over!
will Corbin stay on as the Utah Jazz head coach?
In the opinion of one Hall of Fame coach, the answer is a resounding affirmative. Jerry Sloan, revered by most everyone in NBA circles, leaves no doubt on his position relative to Corbinís employment with the Jazz.
Unfortunately for both coaches, it may not make a difference. New general manager Dennis Lindsey, who worked for the San Antonio Spurs four years ago when the Jazz promoted Corbin, may want to hire his own coach.
In the end, Sloanís coaching tree in Salt Lake City could die shortly after the Jazz finish the season April 16 against Minnesota. But give him credit for sticking up for his guy.
In an informal question-and-answer session with fans during the fourth annual Jazz Beach Bash in Cancun, Mexico, over the All-Star break, Sloan was part of a panel consisting of former coaches, players, media members and a team executive. As he did during an incredible 23-year career with the Jazz, Sloan minced no words in defending Corbin. Some of the crowd may not have supported Sloanís stance, but they had to appreciate his straightforwardness and unwavering loyalty.
His defense of Corbin began with a history, dating back to four years ago when Sloan rocked the NBA by deciding to quit during the season. Ignoring impassioned pleas by Jazz management to stay on, Sloan had had enough. He simply needed a break from the petulant Deron Williamsí of the league and was out of energy to continue.
Sloanís right-hand man for more than two decades literally followed him out the door. Instead of taking over the team and probably earning more money in the process, assistant coach Phil Johnson quit in stride with his boss.
The Jazz then looked down the bench and chose Corbin, who had earned the right above all other candidates to coach the team. Management also emphasized he wasnít taking over on an interim basis.
A second-round pick out of DePaul, Corbin lasted in the NBA for 16 years on the staples of hard work and effort. He was a coachís dream as a player, keeping his mouth shut and earnestly doing whatever was asked.
Corbin put forth the same ethic as an assistant coach. No wonder Sloan loves him.
If replacing a legend wasnít hard enough, Corbin was put in a nearly impossible situation when the Jazz traded Williams to New Jersey for rookie Derrick Favors and other pieces. Right on cue, Corbinís record the rest of the year was 8-20.
With Lindsey on board, the team began a major overhaul last season by letting free agents Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson leave with nothing in return. With those two players, Corbin had a winning record in the hotly contested Western Conference the last two seasons.
Recognizing the future was limited, all associated with the Jazz clamored for more. The best way was to turn loose the young players, even if it wasnít in Corbinís personal best interests. A losing record this season was inevitable. Not even Phil Jackson or Red Auerbach could coax much success out of a team that started John Lucas III at point guard, which was the case early this season.
Thankfully, rookie point guard Trey Burke returned from injury during the first month. But this was still a team far shy on experience and dependable talent.
As Sloan pointed out, with few exceptions, veteran teams win in the worldís most talent basketball league. The mesmerized crowd listened as he recited a litany of examples. Even if they wanted to, no one dared to counter the legend.
The silence from the Jazz makes a statement. Thereís got to be a reason the team hasnít yet extended Corbinís contract.
By now, he and his assistants likely realize their fate. But Corbinís story is far from written. As Sloan proved after getting fired as coach of the Chicago Bulls 32 years ago, talent wins out.
The same foundation that carried Corbin this far isnít going away any time soon. If his Jazz tenure is nearing the end, itís only a matter of time before heís back at it.