CLEVELAND — Jerry Sloan and K.C. Jones were named the winners of the 2016 Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Basketball Coaches Association announced tonight before Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
Sloan played for just over a decade in the NBA, and was a two-time All-Star with the Chicago Bulls. After three years coaching the Bulls, from 1979-82, Sloan became head coach of the Utah Jazz in 1988, where he remained until 2011. Sloan led the Jazz to the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998, and retired with 1,221 career wins, third-all time. Earlier this year, Sloan disclosed that he has been battling Parkinson’s and Lewy body dementia.
“I’m not one that likes to be in the shadows of what goes on in this business sometimes,” said Sloan, “but I’m really honored by the fact that that would be thought of at this stage of my life, to receive an award. I always thought the awards should go to the team and not to me. With that, the MVP Award should go to people who go play and do the hard work. Assistant coaches I think deserve to be recognized as much or more than the head coaches. The head coaches get to be talked to every day.”
K.C. Jones played for the Boston Celtics from 1958-67, winning eight consecutive NBA titles from 1959 through 1966. Jones then went into coaching, winning two NBA championships as an assistant for the Los Angeles Lakers (1972) and the Celtics (1981). Jones became Boston’s head coach in 1983, and won titles with the Celtics in 1984 and 1986. Jones eventually retired with a career record of 522-252 as an NBA head coach. Jones was unable to attend the ceremony due to health reasons; Jones was represented by his son, Kip.
When asked about the job longevity (or lack thereof) for NBA coaches today, particularly when compared to his extended run in Utah, Sloan said he always knew he could rely on support from above.
“When I stood in front of our team at the beginning of training camp,” said Sloan, “Larry Miller, who owned the team, would say, ‘He’s going to be here and you guys might not be.’ That’s a true story. Every season I was a head coach, that’s what we opened the season up with. I see that as one of the main things that seems not to happen a great deal any more.”
The award is named for longtime Detroit coach Chuck Daly, who won two titles with the Pistons and coached the Dream Team to a gold medal at the 1992 Olympics.