Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, saying he no longer has enough energy for the job, resigned in his 23rd season with the National Basketball Association team and was replaced by Tyrone Corbin.
Sloan, 68, the longest-tenured coach in the NBA, had signed a one-year contract extension on Feb. 7. In a news conference yesterday at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, the Hall of Fame coach fought back tears as he thanked owners, fans, players and his fellow coaches.
“My time is up, and it’s time to move,” Sloan said. “I’ve been blessed.”
Sloan, who said he began thinking about retirement a few days ago, took the Jazz twice to the NBA finals and said his one regret was not winning an NBA title in Utah.
“I just felt this was the time to do it,” he said. “I don’t have so much energy left, my energy level has dropped off a bit, and I felt it was time for somebody else.”
NBA Commissioner David Stern said Sloan distinguished himself with his leadership and focus on teamwork.
“Few people have epitomized all the positives of team sports more,” Stern said in a statement released by the NBA. “Jerry moves on having established himself as one of the greatest and most respected coaches in NBA history.”
Sloan and assistant coach Phil Johnson, who also stepped down, thanked former Jazz owner Larry Miller, who died two years ago of complications from diabetes. Miller owned the team for the first 21 years of Sloan’s tenure.
Gail Miller, Larry’s widow, said Corbin should not fear Sloan’s shadow.
“I have no desire for you to try to fill Jerry’s shoes,” she said at the news conference. “I’d like you to stand on his shoulders.”
Hall of Fame
Sloan has a career record of 1,221-803 and led the Jazz to the NBA finals in 1997 and 1998, losing both times to the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan. He was inducted into the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach in 2009.
Sloan spent 11 years in the NBA as a player for the Bulls and Baltimore Bullets, and got his first head coaching job in Chicago from 1979-82. Sloan has 1,127 career wins with the Jazz, the only coach in NBA history with more than 1,100 victories for a single franchise.
Corbin, 48, who played with the Jazz from 1991-1994, was selected as Sloan’s replacement after 2 1/2 seasons as an assistant coach with the team.
“While this is a great opportunity for me, it’s a bitter moment for me because I will miss these guys a lot,” Corbin said.
Utah has a 31-23 record and is 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference’s Northwest Division.