Bits from Frank Layden Interview, 1/29
On his first impression of Jerry Sloan
My first time that I had seen Jerry–I hadn’t met him–when he was playing with the Chicago Bulls, and my reaction was that here is one tough guy, that gives you everything he has. I mean, you know, he was a guy who was stepping into charges and driving to the basket and playing tough defense.
And he just was the kind of player that you said, “Boy, I’d love to have this guy on my team,” you know? And he was a terrific exe–then he went into coaching. And of course, sometimes that transition can be a little tough.
And I think fortunately for me and the Jazz, that turned out, he was very close to Phil Johnson. And we had hired Phil Johnson as an assistant. Phil Johnson suggested that we take on Jerry Sloan as a scout. And we did, and I was of course hoping that he would bring some of that toughness with him, to our organization, and he did. He’s a winner.
On Jerry Sloan the coach and Jerry Sloan the person
You can’t win with bad players, but what’s, but there’s a lot of guys who lose with good players. But Jerry took players that were on the verge of being good, he made them better, he made them believe in themselves, and of course then he took the players that he had, who were very good, by the way, but he made them better, and he made them live up to their potential, and to win.
And of course, I think in terms of that, he made one of the most respected franchises not just in basketball, but in any sport. I think he had more to do with it than anybody…
You always ask yourself, “Boy, if I were to lend somebody my last dollar, who would it be?” It would be Jerry Sloan. If I had to be in a foxhole with somebody, if my life depended on it, it would have to be Jerry Sloan.
And I think that, you know, he just, he goes about giving you everything he has. He coaches, he coached when he was sick. He coached when he was hurt. He gave it everything he got.
On how the Jazz came to draft John Stockton
[Former Weber State coach Neil] McCarthy, he came back, and, from the Olympic trials or something, or he had seen some workouts and what have you, some tournaments. And he said to me, “Hey, by the way–” you know, and this is the first time I’d ever heard the name, he says, “There’s a kid that plays on Gonzaga.” And I had heard of Gonzaga because I knew that’s where Fran–where Bing Crosby went to school. And so anyway, that was about as much I knew about their basketball program.
But he says, “There is a guard that is absolutely terrific.” He says, “He is gonna be even a better pro than he is a college player.” He said, “And I think, you know, he’s probably, he’s gonna be available. I don’t think a lot of people are gonna be real interested in him. He’s not that big.” And he went on and on and on, but he said he liked him. And that was the first time that I had heard the name “John Stockton,” or putting it with the Gonzaga and that there should be interest on our part.
Well, the second person was LaDell Anderson. LaDell had been to the Olympic trials, and he came back and we were chatting–I think we were playing golf or something, and we were friends–and I, he said, “Listen,” he says. “There’s a kid,” he says. “I just love him.” He says, “He plays hard. He passes the ball. He’s very smart.” And he went on and on, and now the second guy who, I have both, respect for both coaches…
Then, you know, they had the college all-star game in conjunction, I believe, with the Final Four. And the report came back, who, a good friend of mine was Jack Gardner. And he said, “Frank, if this guy is around, you have gotta get him. He is that good. John Stockton, you know, this is–” So now, we’ve kinda heard about him, so we started to do some research and again, we ran into this, there wasn’t much, there wasn’t many films. They didn’t film all their games, and you know, there were some questions about the competition, and so forth and so on.
But we had pretty good, you know, scouting and what have you, and everybody that saw him said they thought he was good. Now, how soon would you pick him?
Well, during the draft, we started to, you know, we were exchanging information with different teams, and talking back and forth when it came up that, you know, Portland was very interested in acquiring John Stockton, and they had the pick after us.
And I said, “Well, why don’t we take Stockton, and maybe we can make a deal with Portland later on?” You know, and you know, really with not knowing just how good he was gonna be. And sure enough, he was there. We took him, and the rest was history.
* In Stockton’s autobiography, he mentioned that he had gotten a draft promise from Portland…but it was for the 26th pick of the second round.
On how the Jazz came to draft Karl Malone
With Karl Malone, it was a little different. You know, Karl Malone, I remember one time being with Scott Layden and Jerry Sloan, and we had gone up to a little cabin I had up in Ogden Canyon for the weekend before the draft, and we were talking about players.
And Scott said, “Hey, I’m gonna show you a picture of a guy.” He said, “He is one tough dude. And he can rebound.” And he said, “There’s some questions about his shooting, but he can rebound, and he’s a real tough guy. He’s our type of player. But he’s not gonna be there.”
So anyway, so we saw the film and sure enough, he was a wrecking crew. And of course, it was the great Karl Malone.
And then, you know, the day of the draft, he kept slipping towards us. And I said, “What’s wrong?” You know, every time they’re coming up to me, “Hey, you know, Malone’s taken another notch. He’s starting to get closer and closer. What are we gonna do?” You know, I know we had our mind on somebody else, but bingo, there he was.
And both Jerry and Scott especially said, “We have gotta take him. We can’t let him go by.” And of course we got him, and that was the one-two punch.
Do you watch many NBA games? Are you watching the Jazz?
I’m down in San Antonio, so I’ve gone to maybe as many games, you know, San Antonio games, as many NBA games as I’ve done in years. You know, we’re just outside of San Antonio, a little town near Fiesta. And so, we get down the to the games.
In fact, we’re going down tonight. They’re playing the Bulls, and so we see Scott there and we watch them play. Yeah, we get a chance to see [games].
The reason for that last question was, what’s your take on the job Tyrone Corbin is doing?
What kind of job is he doing? [Spencer Checketts: Yeah. Uh-huh.] He’s a miracle worker. Yeah. I think Ty is doing a great job. You know?…
I think his temperament is excellent. You know, he shows a great maturity with the officials. I think he does with the players, you know, and I think how he reacts to, you know, he’s in no easy position…and yet, you know, the team plays hard. They, you know, he’s got a lot of young kids there. And he seems to be very patient with them.
And I think they’re, they play hard. They can play anybody. I think on any given night they can beat anybody in the league…In fact, I don’t know where this team would be if they had the players they have, plus Big Al [Jefferson] and Paul Millsap. They’d probably be right in the hunt to win the conference–win the division.
On Jerry Sloan’s ceremony
We’re coming in tomorrow, and we’ll be there for the whole weekend, and looking forward to it…I think it’s long overdue and well-deserved. (1280)