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Jeff Van Gundy Talks Jerry Sloan

January 12, 2015

Jeff Van Gundy

JVG on Jerry Sloan the coach
Everybody knows about his toughness, about the offensive execution, the defensive tenacity that he displayed as a player, but also that his teams displayed.

But I was always struck by a couple different things. One is unique humbleness. For a man who has accomplished so much, to be so very humble, was truly inspiring.

And then secondly, during the games, he cared so deeply, but after the game, he didn’t let it rip apart his life. You know, he went home, he put his John Deere hat on, and he was able to separate his work from, you know, the other parts of his life, and I think that’s what allowed him to coach so very, very well for so very long.

JVG tells a Jerry Sloan story
I’ll tell you this story. And I was coaching against him–I was in Houston, and you guys had Kirk Snyder, who I later coached in Houston. And you know, he was a trip in his own right. But we were ahead, and Utah was making a great charge and Kirk Snyder was in the game and he hadn’t been playing much, and now he was, I mean, he was playing great.

And he scored a bucket, you know, to cut it to maybe two or three, I think, and he came over and he taunted our bench. And, I mean, stood right in front of our bench acting the fool, you know? And you know, my instincts, I wanted to, like, go up and hit him.

Like, you know, if that would’ve been our old Knicks team, it would’ve been a brawl. But we had nice guys in Houston, and you know, they didn’t say a whole lot. They talked, but they didn’t physically confront him.

Anyway, I get on the official, and, using some of Jerry Sloan’s best words, I earn a technical because [the official] didn’t take care of the taunting situation.

Well, immediately, Jerry Sloan takes Kirk Snyder out. This was the fourth quarter of a winnable game, and he doesn’t see the court the rest of the game. And I’ve always admired, you know, people can say they’ll take a stand. Many times the stand doesn’t impact the winning or losing.

Jerry Sloan was not afraid to take a stand for what he believed in, whether it impacted winning or losing. And I admired him that night. I’ve always admired him. I don’t think I could admire a coach any more than I admire Jerry Sloan and what he stands for. (1280)

Some extra reading? Excerpt From the Trib’s game story that night:

He couldn’t deny his actions on Monday, as everyone in the Delta Center watched him make a driving layup in the third quarter, then continue running to the Houston bench where he stopped and gestured.

Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy quickly jumped up and went out on the floor and was called for a technical. The technical free throw, plus one made by Snyder for getting fouled on the layup, cut Houston’s lead to 68-66.

But that was it for Snyder’s gloating, and Utah’s comeback, as coach Jerry Sloan yanked him and chewed him out on the bench.

“He’s not Michael Jordan,” said Sloan, who for a brief moment thought he might spend his birthday breaking up a brawl. “Michael was good enough where he might be able to say something, but I don’t see that in Kirk just yet.”

For his part, Snyder said his excitement simply overtook him.

“I was right in front of their coach. I was in bad territory. I wasn’t supposed to be over there,” Snyder said. “I was trying to compete and got caught up in the momentum. That isn’t supposed to happen.”

Snyder is one of the more demonstrative players on the Jazz roster, whether it’s a little showboating after a dunk or giving an opponent a lingering stare as they run down the court.

Sloan has little tolerance for such actions, especially after the bench-clearing brawl between Indiana and Detroit this season.

After taking Snyder out of the game and giving him an earful, Sloan waved in the direction of the Houston bench, letting the Rockets know Snyder was dealt with.

(Jerry also suspended Snyder for the next game.)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. cubsmodano permalink
    January 13, 2015 2:40 am

    I remember watching that game and telling my wife about it years later as one of my favorite Jerry memories. It’s really a microcosm of what I loved about his teams; professionalism and respectfulness were required, and Jerry was the boss.


  1. An Open Letter To My Childhood Hero Jerry Sloan


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