“A technical foul has been charged to coach Jerry Sloan.”
Longtime Utah Jazz public-address announcer Dan Roberts has uttered that exact phrase dozens if not hundreds of times.
In Wednesday’s radio interview, one of the most interesting things Jerry Sloan said when asked to reflect on the past two years (since friction with Deron Williams led to his departure as Jazz head coach) was that he regretted he wasn’t able to maintain better relations with the officials.
Here is a portion of Jerry’s transcript from the great @monilogue:
As a player Jerry Sloan was one of the fiercest competitors to ever play the game and that fire carried over into his hall-of-fame coaching career. His competitiveness translated not only into motivating and willing his players to perform to their fullest potential, but also into fighting for every call he thought his team deserved.
When Jerry felt his team wasn’t receiving fair treatment from the officials, he let them know about it the best way he knew how: directly and with blunt honesty. He did so loudly and often with strong language, but most importantly he did so with the underlying message that he was willing to fight tooth and nail to help his team win.
As a result, Sloan was often ranked among the league leaders in technical fouls assessed to coaches.
That begs the question: How many technical fouls were assessed to Jerry Sloan over the course of his career?
I keep detailed Jazz logs which include technical foul tallies – but my records don’t go back anywhere close to when Jerry first became head coach of the Jazz in 1988. Therefore using the 2008 Guiness Book of World Records – it was stated that as of March 15, 2007 Jerry Sloan had accumulated 413 technical fouls as both a player and a coach. Adding in technical fouls accumulated since provides a bare-minimum number of T’s Sloan has been assessed since entering the NBA over 40 years ago.
|Jerry Sloan – NBA Technical Foul Totals|
Assuming the 413-figure includes postseason numbers – Jerry Sloan finished his NBA career amassing a total of at least 446 technical fouls. The actual total is likely higher considering Sloan played five seasons before the NBA began officially recording technical fouls as statistics in 1970.
Regardless, 446 is an extordinary number. By comparison, Rasheed Wallace (who holds the NBA single-season technical foul record of 41 set in 2000-01 – which broke his own record of 38 he had set the previous season) was T’d up a total of 373 times (including playoffs) in his NBA career which may (or may not) be over.
Oh and when those two technical foul wizards crossed paths – all kinds of good stuff happened:
Jerry’s willingness to go after Rasheed Wallace always harkens back to an old Frank Layden quote that Michael C. Lewis shared in his outstanding must-read book “To The Brink” in which Layden said of Sloan: “Nobody fights with Jerry because you know the price would be too high. You might come out the winner, at his age. You might even lick him. But you’d lose an eye, an arm, your testicles in the process. Everything would be gone.”
While Sloan definitely had his own distinct manner in dealing with the refs, it’s important to remember how the league has cracked down on the verbal abuse of their officials in recent years. The leeway that Sloan and other hot-tempered coaches such as Don Nelson once had to work over officiating crews no longer exists in the current NBA. Coaches were forced to relatively “adjust” aspects of their sideline presence as the years went on and Sloan adapted with it.
For example, during the 1999-00 regular season Sloan was called for 24 technical fouls and ejected 6 times. That carried over into Utah’s 9-game postseason where he was called for 4 more technicals and 1 more ejection. By comparison, from the 2007-08 season until the end of his coaching career in 2011 – Sloan was called for a combined total of 24 regular season technicals and 4 ejections. He still maintained his fire and knew when to pick his spots but overall he had calmed down a great deal compared to the Stockton&Malone era when he would pick up technical fouls as if they were
candy antique tractors.
While it’s highly possible Jerry Sloan will never coach again in the NBA, I’ll always remember him not only for the great teams he put out on the floor and the toughness and teamwork they displayed – but for his sheer fire and competitive spirit that often carried over into his team’s play.
It’s great to have Jerry back in an advisory role with the franchise, but his best and greatest role ever was as a head coach and it’s still very sad he no longer maintains that position. He truly was an outstanding coach and face of the franchise, technical fouls and all.