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May 1, 2013

The Mysterious Motives of Jerry Sloan

-- Wondering how Jerry could possibly consider the Bobcats for his next job? Me too.

Millions of men see the name of Sloan every day, though we probably don’t realize it, being that the name is etched into the tops of the urinals we frequent. This lack of recognition isn’t due to illiteracy but the fact that we are trained not to stare while at the trough, be it at our neighbor to the left or the maker’s name to the front. Maybe trained is the wrong word - no one ever told me what to do on the spot but my natural reaction has always been to disengage the eyes, to glance up, glance down — repeat casually — in the hopes that anyone near knows I’m cool, I’m not paying attention to anything, that I couldn’t be less interested in the current surroundings.

I’m trying my best to take a similar approach to the news that the other famous Sloan — Jerry Sloan — is interviewing with the worst team in basketball history today (insert your own witty urinal reference here), but it isn’t as easy to look away. Here stands a coach with the third highest amount of wins in the history of the NBA. A coach who is partially responsible for the development and play of the NBA’s all-time leaders in assists, steals and rebounds. A coach who when in the league was regarded among the top three in the game.
You’re telling me that this same coach is interviewing for the chance to lead the worst team in the history of basketball? He’s sitting down in an interview, listing his accomplishments, pleading his case for why he should a get a shot to coach the poorest performing players the NBA has ever seen? Isn’t Sloan better than this job?
I’m disgusted, I want to look away, and yet here I am, staring.

This scenario is even harder to swallow when you think of the person conducting the interview. Sitting across the table, probably in a throne made from the Nikes of his victims sits Michael Jordan, the foil of Jerry Sloan’s entire career. Can you imagine Harry Potter applying for a job at Voldemort Incorporated? That’s what is happening. I can almost hear the discussion now …

Jordan: “I’ll hire you but only if you promise not to pass the ball into the post when the best player in history is lurking on the baseline, ready to steal it and make the game-winning shot against us. Oh yeah, and maybe run some free throws drills in practice so our players don’t miss two freebies in the deciding seconds of an NBA Finals game.”

Sloan: “Somehow over the past 14 years I forgot how much I hate you. What am I even doing here?”

That’s what I’m trying to figure out. Ever been to the Pacific Northwest coach? I hear it’s beautiful up there and that their professional team, the Portland Trailblazers, could use a guy like you. Same goes for an up-and-coming franchise called the Los Angeles Clippers. They even boast Stockton and Malone reincarnates at the point and power forwards spots! Sure, their owner isn’t much better than Jordan, but at least he hasn’t beaten you twice in the NBA Finals. Or better yet coach, wait a year and see what happens with the Heat, the Knicks, or even the Lakers jobs.

You see, I’m stumped. Sure Jerry has proven himself capable of rebuilding teams with low talent levels in the past. But at this point in his career what is compelling about working under a former rival on a 7-win team in front of half-filled stadiums night after night? There’s only one thing missing from Sloan’s resume, and I don’t think it can be found coaching the Cats - at least not for a handful of years anyway. In the end there is no reason Sloan should take this job over any of the others that are soon to become available. Unless …

Unless Coach Sloan has hidden motivations that I am completely unaware of.  I mean what else could it be? Has he become so bored without basketball that he’d jump on the Bobcats instead of waiting a few weeks for Vinny Del Negro to get fired? I've dwelled on this, brainstormed it, and have developed three possible explanations for Sloan’s comeback. They may at first glance appear ridiculous, but really, can you think of another reason he’d go to Michael Jordan for a job?

The Possible Hidden Motives behind Sloan’s Return

1. Take revenge on Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan is one half of a duo responsible for the Stockton/Malone/Sloan trio living without championship rings. In the Sloan household there is no greater adversary. So if you’re Jerry Sloan how do you strike back against your worst enemy? One way is to take over his team and drive it into the ground. Last year the Bobcats won seven games. Maybe this year Sloan could take it to an even worse level. Then this time next year he quits, deem the roster unmanageable and management brainless, effectively laying all the blame on Jordan. Combine that with Larry Bird’s continued success at the helm of the Pacers, and Jordan’s struggles to run an NBA team will look worse and worse.

2. Win the Coach of the Year Award
Has there ever been a head coach opening that comes with this easy a path to winning the Coach of the Year Award? A coach who gets within ten games of .500 with this squad would be a shoe-in for NBA’s best leader. Sloan has historically been denied this award, most egregiously in 2004 when he led Andrei Kirilenko and Matt Harpring to within one game of the playoffs11. In the Western Conference, mind you.. Perhaps he’s wanted the award more than we ever knew and realizes he can finally win it. I just hope that when he receives it, he lifts it high into the air, swears something like, “ I don’t care about this individual !@#$! Plus you should have given this to me years ago!” and breaks it in half on the court. Boy just writing this I see how a bitter a fan I am.

 3. Take revenge on Dick Bavetta
Part two of the duo that stuffed the Jazz in the 1998 Finals is Dick Bavetta, he of the phantom 24-second shot-clock violation22. Sorry this is in Spanish, the original has been deleted from YouTube. Fortunately the NBA hasn’t found this version yet.. The reversed three-pointer from Howard Eisley coupled with Bavetta’s allowance of a Ron Harper two that should have been ruled off due to shot-clock infringement constitute 5 points against the Jazz in a game that was decided by one point. I haven’t gotten over it (clearly) and though Jerry claims he has, I could still see him harboring one last grudge. What would I give to see Jerry stick his foot out one time as Dick jogged down the sideline. The encouraging thing about this point is that Jerry’s history is more laden with referee confrontations than most. The odds may not be as bad we think.  


I love Jerry Sloan. I’d love to see him coach again. And I’d love to see him coach again for the right reason, not for any of those mentioned above. At this point you’re saying to yourself, “Duh, of course he’d come back for the right reason, why else would he return? Your three ‘hidden motives’ are stupid, nonsensical and completely absurd.” I’m glad you noticed because that’s the exact point I’m trying to make: For Jerry Sloan, so is coaching the Bobcats. 

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