Phil Johnson KALL Interview Highlights
Why the Stockton-Malone partnership worked so well
First of all, they’re both great, great competitors. It’s interesting to watch them over the years. I wouldn’t call them really close friends; I think they had tremendous respect for each other. They had different agendas as far as their life and that type of stuff, but they were both very good family men. They really came to play and they were in such great condition all the time, and they had tremendous will to win, and they complemented each other so much. …
It was a long run with those guys, and yeah, it’s something to behold how loyal they were too to us as coaches. It was just incredible.
Going into the Utah Sports Hall of Fame with Jerry Sloan
I knew he would [get in], but I was kind of surprised for me. I think it’s really an achievement for me and it makes you kind of speechless actually because I’m not sure how much I deserve it. … it’s a great thing to go in with him because we have been together so long and we tried to help each other a lot.
Favorite players over the years besides John and Karl
Hornacek was a very good player that helped us a lot. Personality-wise, I really like Big Dawg. Antoine Carr was just a really good team guy to coach. Mehmet Okur is just one of my favorites over the years. There’s so many of them.
When I first came back, [Mark Eaton] had been drafted in the fourth round and literally could hardly run up and down the floor twice. I worked with him in the summers, and he’s an incredible person. Those are some of the guys that stand out for me. Karl was just so free with his good will towards the city. There’s a lot of good things that happened here, and a lot of nice things to have worked with these people.
Was the head coaching position offered to you after Jerry resigned?
All the time that I was coaching here, [Larry H. Miller] always told me and told the press that if Jerry left, I’d be the head coach. I didn’t stay because of that. When the time came, I just felt like it was time to go. That was the decision I made; no one forced me to do that. They actually asked me if I wanted to stay and be the head coach but I kinda made my decision that night and then thought through the night.
What’s the closest you came to taking a coaching position elsewhere?
There were about three times I had offers from teams and just decided to stay. I had a pretty high criteria on where I wanted to go. It had to be a good situation and I didn’t want to jump at any team. The ego part of it is not the biggest thing and you can’t make decisions because of money.* …
A couple of times a couple of players went to Larry and said they didn’t want me to leave. When that happens, it’s pretty hard to leave particularly when you like where you’re coaching.
* You hear that, everyone in the NBA?
Have you written your induction speech?
I’m going to say, “Thank you. Goodbye.” (laughs) / (KALL)