HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS — If Dwight Howard thought Stan Van Gundy was tough to deal with, can you imagine how he’d react to Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan?
The former and longtime coach of the Utah Jazz is apparently contemplating a coaching comeback at 70, with feelers from both the Charlotte Bobcats and potentially the Magic, who fired Van Gundy Monday and are currently searching for his replacement.
Sloan has already spoken with the Bobcats about their opening and is “intrigued” by the possibilities in Orlando, per the Salt Lake Tribune:
Asked about his reported interest in Orlando, Sloan said, “I’m sure a lot of people are interested. But I really don’t know what the parameters are going to be or what’s going on. I guess we’ll wait and see what happens.”
Orlando’s situation is complicated, given the uncertain future of All-Star center Dwight Howard and the team’s vacant general manager job.
Sloan knows the Magic “have a lot of different things to consider” while searching for their new coach.
Now 70, Sloan says he feels “terrific” and his health is “good,” although that does not mean he is actively seeking a job.
“I just stay out of the way and see what happens,” Sloan said. “If there’s some interest in me, fine. If there’s not, I understand that, too.”
After a 15-month absence from the bench, Sloan sounds like a man with at least a few more years of coaching in him. We’ve certainly missed him here. Few coaches delivered the goods with the sort of straight-talk approach that Sloan did in his 23 years as coach of the Jazz.
But how would his style play in other cities? He’s a living legend in Utah, an icon. And the fans there had an appreciation for him that would be hard to develop somewhere else, without the benefit of his extensive history with the franchise.
And while he hints that he could be enticed into getting back into the coaching game, Sloan didn’t come right out and say he was ready to make a comeback. Those closest to him, though — and that includes his wife Tammy — sense that now is the time for him to make that comeback, if it’s going to happen:
“I just don’t see him staying retired,” she said. “I just can’t see that happening.”
Longtime friend Danny Brown, who lives in Illinois, agreed.
“If the right deal came along, maybe. He might do it again,” Brown said.
Sloan, who was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, ranks third among coaches in regular-season wins with 1,221. He trails Don Nelson (1,335) and Lenny Wilkens (1,332).
The NBA coaching ranks would be better with Sloan in the fold, no matter where he coaches. Same goes for Phil Jackson and several other “retired” NBA coaches.