The late great Jerry Sloan was a disciplinarian. He required shirts to be tucked in, drawstrings of shorts tucked in, and would allow no phone-time while on the team’s bus. But it worked. All those little things made all the difference, as Sloan’s name sits fourth on the list of most winningest coaches in NBA history.
Deron Williams had the honor of playing for Jerry for the entirety of his six-season run with the Utah Jazz. He spoke about it with Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson on the Knuckleheads podcast, pointing out Sloan’s emphasis on offense and the attention to detail when perfecting the schemes he had implemented.
Do you know how much dummy offense we did? Man, so we would do it. Some days we would come in, and he’d put me at the five, and he’d put Booze at the one. You had to know; he wanted you to know every position so that everything was interchangeable. And that’s how good we run it. That’s what made it so successful, is how hard we ran it and how well we ran it.Deron Williams, Knuckleheads
D-Will fit perfectly into Sloan’s pick-and-roll heavy offensive system, with Carlos Boozer being the perfect second fiddle next to a 6-3 point guard. The two would turn the Jazz into a contender during the mid-’00s, making the playoffs for four consecutive years and reaching the WCF during the 06/07 NBA season, with a Hall-of-Fame coach orchestrating from the sidelines.
It was Sloan’s surgical approach, combined with the ability to hold his guys accountable, that turned Utah into a team to beat during the stretch. It meant knowing the ins and outs of every play in the playbook and maintaining the standard of playing hard and playing the right way. So whether they were doing charge drills in February or facing Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in the postseason, Sloan’s demands on his players were always the same. You better meet them; otherwise, you’d get an earful.
Every training camp we had our team meeting. Coach Sloan, he would flip through this book, he would have his glasses on and he’d be reading, and he’d take them off and he would be mad about something, it’s like we did something wrong, but it’s the first meeting ever. When he’s going over the rules like he’s already mad because he knows somebody gon’ break the rules.Deron Williams, Knuckleheads
These are all things that made Jerry Sloan into the NBA legend he is. For all the guys out there aspiring to become basketball coaches, let coach Sloan be your inspiration. There aren’t many who are better in the history of the association.