CBSSports.com had a report yesterday that former NBA All-Star and former Utah Jazz long-term coach, Jerry Sloan, is dying of Parkinson’s and dementia. Jerry Sloan was the coach of the Utah Jazz from 1988 to 2011. Here are some overviews of that coaching career:
- In those 23 seasons, the Jazz had exactly 1 season with a .500 record.
- In those 23 seasons, the Jazz had exactly 2 seasons with a record below .500
- The Jazz made the playoffs 15 consecutive seasons from 1989 to 2003
- His record with the Jazz was 1163 – 675
Jerry Sloan is in the Hall of Fame as a coach and certainly deserves to be there. For me, Jerry Sloan was also the kind of player I loved to watch as a younger fan. He was a defensive stand-out making the NBA First Team All-Defensive Team 4 times. Never did I see him play at anything less than 100% effort in all his years with the Chicago Bulls as a player.
Jerry Sloan never possessed physical skills that were the equals of those of many of his contemporaries in the NBA from the mid-60s through the mid-70s. However, it is interesting to contemplate how great some of today’s players might become if they played with the intensity and focus that Jerry Sloan put forth on the court when he was in the game.
Boy, I wish that the CBSSports.com story turns out to be wrong…
Let me stay with the NBA for a moment here… In all the major US sports, there are a handful of team owners who stand out as negative examples regarding what a successful and fan-friendly owner ought to be. Here are some examples:
- In MLB “recent history” consider Marge Schott
- In current MLB, consider Peter Angelos
- In NFL “history” consider Jerry Wolman
- In NFL “recent history” consider the Al Davis of the current millennium
- In the current NFL, consider Danny Boy Snyder
In the NBA, however, there is only one gold standard that spans the history of the league. That would be James Dolan – owner of the NY Knicks and Madison Square Garden. James Dolan does not merely annoy/irritate Knicks’ fans; James Dolan infuriates them, insults their intelligence, and dips ever deeper into their pockets for his own financial benefit. Other than that, he’s a great owner…
I do not have the time or the inclination to list all of the atrociously stupid decisions that the Knicks’ management has made in the last couple of decades, so let me just hit the high notes here:
- The Knicks thought singing Jerome James to a long-term deal was a good idea.
- The Knicks saw trading to acquire Carmelo Anthony was a good idea.
- The Knicks hired Isiah Thomas to run the operation and that turned out to be a disaster on several fronts.
- The Knicks hired Phil Jackson to “fix everything”. Then, after it was clear that Jackson’s “vision” getting the team nowhere, the Knicks extended his contract before firing him and paying him the extended money he was owed.
- The Knicks banned one of their former star players – – Charles Oakley – – from Madison Square Garden because he dared to say publicly that James Dolan did not know what the Hell he was doing and ought to sell the team.
James Dolan is not merely some rich kid who found himself in the ownership position of this franchise; James Dolan – to Knick fans – is “The Enemy” – – or at the very least, “The Bad Guy” in a long-running serial wherein the Knicks never succeed.
Take a look at the Knicks’ “strategy” over the past season:
- They traded away Kristaps Porzingas – their best young player by a mile-and-a-half – because he was unhappy with his contract situation. That trade got them Dennis Smith, Jr. who is a good player but not a very good player nor nearly a great player. Plus, it got the Knicks a ton of salary cap room that they planned – less than privately – to use on at least one if not two free agents this summer.
- They also tanked the 2018/19 season to get – hopefully – the overall #1 pick in the Draft to take Zion Williamson. That did not work.
- The Knicks and their cap space got exactly none of the myriad top-shelf free agents that changed teams this summer. They wound up spending their money on bargain-basement free agents such as Julius Randle and even lesser lights. Top-shelf free agents never gave the Knicks an interview opportunity.
Of course, James Dolan’s underlings who run and manage the Knicks on a day-to-day basis must shoulder a lot of the blame for the current malaise of the franchise. At the same time, folks have to realize that there is one single continuous presence that connects all the dots in all the scenarios that have unfolded here and that presence is James Dolan.
I am not going to waste my time telling Knicks’ fans to keep their voices up urging Dolan to sell the team. Such advice would be about as useful as directing a eunuch to a whorehouse. However, I would offer this suggestion to fans of the Knicks – – or fans of the Orioles in MLB or the Skins in the NFL:
- Your odious and incompetent owner enjoys two things – – the profits he gets from his sporting enterprise and the social stature that he obtains simply by being the owner of that sporting enterprise.
- You – and the rest of your cohort fans – cannot realistically deny him his profits. It would take a moron to lose money given the business situations of those teams and none of those owners are morons.
- You can, however, deny him social stature. Whenever the owner shows up at a game, if everyone in the stadium/arena would stand and point to him and chant “Ass – – Hole” – instead of “Air – – Ball” – that might make his social stature a bit less lofty. Doing this on a nationally televised game – – such as the Knicks’ guaranteed game on Christmas Day – – would certainly get the sports media talking about the fan “uprising” …
Finally, Brad Rock of the Deseret News had the opportunity to cover the Utah Jazz under Jerry Sloan and he had a comment recently that pertained to the NY Knicks. Ergo, he is the perfect way to end today’s rant:
“A restaurant in Thailand is encouraging patrons to climb into a coffin so they can experience ‘death awareness’.
“Or they can just attend a Knicks game.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………