It was 4 years ago to the day that this happened:
Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan stepped down Thursday after 23 seasons and 1,127 wins at the helm of the Utah Jazz, saying he simply ran out of energy to coach anymore.
"I had a feeling this time was the time to move on," an emotional Sloan said during a Thursday afternoon news conference. "[That's] a long time to be in one organization. Again, I've been blessed. Today is a new day. When I get this over with, I'll feel better. My time is up and it's time to move on."
I still feel a little sick in the stomach when I think of that day. After that date, the Utah Jazz were not a playoff team anymore. Yes, they made the playoffs once during that time during the shortened season/tankathon that followed after 2011. That season can be chalked up to an anomaly and, partly, because the Jazz didn't realize how much it would throw off their rebuilding plans.
With Jerry at the helm, you KNEW that the Utah Jazz would be in the playoffs and would compete on a night in/night out basis. You knew that players would work hard for him and respect him. After that, who knows. I couldn't say that for Tyrone Corbin and, while the early returns are promising, you can't say that about Quin Snyder.
Utah's only advantage, besides having a crowd of thousands of vicious fans (just do you, Utah), was Jerry Sloan. Jerry could take 2nd rounders and turn them into All-Stars. He could take fringe NBA talent and make them a quality rotation player. He never figured out how to keep the weight off Greg Ostertag, but beyond that he was a wizard.
This generation will remember Gregg Popovich as that hard nosed, no nonsense, bleed the team's potential from a rock-type coach. But before Pop, there was Sloan. Sloan blazed the trail. The Spurs and the Pop followed it and turned it into a machine. I still miss you, Jerry.
The true keepers of Jazz came into New Orleans and restored order in the land of Mardi Gras last night. Jazz vs Pelicans pitted two teams that are the walking wounded. The Utah Jazz don't have a shooting guard to their name missing Rodney Hood, Alec Burks, and Joe Ingles. The Pelicans were missing the god of this world, Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, and Ryan Anderson. Besides playing on the road, the game was stacked in the Jazz's favor. Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors didn't have to chase Ryan Anderson around and Anthony "DA GAWD" Davis wasn't near the floor.
Enough can't be said about Gordon Hayward who had his second 30 point night. Gordon Hayward is being given little to no help from the either guard position. Dante Exum looks like as raw as projected and Trey Burke is continuing his on again yet more off again streak. Gordon Hayward is the offense. He is the point guard. He is the initiator on offense. He is the Utah Jazz right now. It's not that Gordon is just scoring points. He is dishing out assists, being a pest on defense, and rebounding the ball at a high level.
It's no surprise that Dante Exum has been struggling. But how has his struggles affected the team. Since he has started there has been an effect on a certain player. That player? Gordon Hayward. As Andy Larsen tweeted out:
Gordon Hayward since Dante Exum moved into the starting lineup: 23.9 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 4.6 APG on 50.3% shooting overall and 47.7% from 3.— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) February 10, 2015
Now that increase could be attributed to Gordon Hayward having to do more, but Dante Exum looks more to pass than score. So this is a marriage that can work in the future.
#ICYMI -- this vine by Deseret News beatgod Jody has Enes Kanter interviewing himself. It's . . . it's everything we miss from social media Kanter.
Ed. Note: Sorry this is so late, it's because MyLo's Apple computer failed him. I don't know, I guess these machines aren't that reliable. What ONE piece of gear you have (cell phone, tablet, GPS in your car, whatever) is invaluable right now?