Where Are They Now: Felton Spencer
When was the last time you were in Salt Lake City?
It’s been a while. I think 2004…so it’s been about 12 years.
What are you up to?
I am an assistant coach at Bellarmine University. It’s a Division II here, school here in Louisville, Kentucky. And I work with at-risk kids for Jefferson County Public School…
This is my first year with Bellarmine, and I’m really having a good time. We got a good group of kids, and the staff that I’m working with, Coach Beau [Braden] and Coach [Scott or Doug] Davenport, you know, they do a really good job, you know, of getting the kids prepared and I’m having a lot of fun…
[Jefferson County is] an alternative school here in Louisville, and what we do is we bring in kids that have, for whatever reason, fallen behind and they, or have dropped out of school, and we bring them back in and we talk to them and just try to help them get, do credit recovery so they can get the credit they need to graduate from high school and get their diplomas.
What was it like playing for a coach like Jerry Sloan?
Playing for Coach Sloan was probably one of the best times of my career. …
He was a great guy to play for. He was a guy that played in the NBA. He knew what it was like to be out there on the floor. He knew what it was like to play back-to-back games.
And he was always very well respected in the locker room, just because of the fact the guys knew he had been there, been through the same battles that we ha–you know, being a little fatigued and still having to get out there and try to play hard and play your best. And he was always very supportive of everybody. …
My favorite guy, you know, it’s, Coach Sloan was always one of my favorite coaches to play for, just because he was very open and candid with you as a player. You know, he didn’t try to, you know, BS you or anything like that. He was just out-and-out blunt with you. If you asked him a question, he was gonna give you a really direct and s–and to-the-point answer.
But he was also a guy who was always in your corner and supported you and wanted to see you succeed and do the best. And you know, I really learned a lot from him, you know, as far as, you know, teamwork and playing hard, playing together, and having each other’s back out on the court. So, I mean, he was a big influence on me.
Do you find yourself saying things while coaching that you used to hear from Jerry Sloan?
All the time. It all comes back to you when you stand there. You know, a guy misses a blockout assignment, you know, I can hear Sloan, you know, “Chief, what are you doing? Get over there!” You know? It comes back to you, and you know, I find myself repeating stuff that, you know, Coach Sloan said. …
I often will [say] stuff that I heard Coach Sloan say. You know, when you’re coaching, you know, you gotta get our guys, you know, just try to motivate them and get them to go out there and play hard for you. So you know, and I remember some of the stuff Coach used to say.
You know, Coach is, you know, he used to put you out there, he’d be like, “Hey,” you know, “You ca–you gotta protect the house.” You know, “You can’t go out there, and, smiling and buddy-buddy with the guys before the game.” You know, he always wanted us to be focused, be serious. And that’s what I try to tell our guys. You know, your preparation is the key thing when you go out to play.
On playing with Karl Malone, John Stockton and the rest of the guys
Utah’s probably the first team I played for where, you know, everybody really got along well together. It wasn’t really a lot of individual, you know, all — you know, it was just let’s, we’re gonna work hard as a team and see how much success we can have and how far can we go and try to win a championship. …
The guys that I played with, I was really comfortable. We had a system that every–that we all knew. And really, it was almost like, you know, you didn’t even have to say anything. Guys just knew if he’s cutting here, then he’s going there. And John always — I think John had four sets of eyes, ’cause he could see everything. …
It was awesome playing with Karl and John, because they made the game so much easier. You know, John, I had to learn to really keep my eyes open because he hit you in the head with the basketball if you weren’t looking, ’cause he was gonna throw it to you if you got open, and he’d know you were open when you didn’t know. So, you had to be aware.
And Karl took so much pressure off of you ’cause of the fact he drew so much attention in the post or out — when we set the high post plays we ran sometimes, that it was easy for me. All I had to do was just kind of stand there and just wait, just catch the rebound if he happened to miss, and he didn’t miss very often. …
When I look back on my career, I had, you know, I got to play with some great guys. I w–got to work for some great organizations. But you know, I, everybody always remembers me as a Jazz guy because — you know, that’s the first thing they say. “I remember you played in Utah!” And I’m like, “Yeah, that’s right!”
What do you think of today’s players resting or coaches resting players?
I could understand coaches and player–they have, I think that the mentality of the way they play the game is a lot different, because we kind of had a “warrior” mindset.
If you could go, yo–tape that thing up. If it was the ankle or whatever, tape it up a little bit tighter and let’s get on the floor and try to help the team win and be successful. Because when you get down to the end of the season, you don’t want to look back and have that game that got away that could’ve been the difference between having home-court advantage throughout the playoff series.
So, we always went after — I mean, I saw Karl and John go out there and you know, twist an ankle and Karl come back with, like he had a cast on his leg, he got so much tape, and go out there and still play. And you know, I think everybody on the team at that time had that same mentality. We all wanted to be out there. We didn’t want to sit on the sideline.
What do you think of players now saying 82 games are too many, or resting and complaining about the schedule?
I don’t think there are too many games. I mean, it’s been 82-game for forever. You know, and I think, and guys dealt with that. You knew that was part of your job, is you got a rigorous schedule. There’s gonna be travel. There’re gonna be nights when you’re playing back-to-back. You might be a little tired, but you sucked it up and you dealt with that.
You know, you prepared yourself for that, and you tried to get off your feet that second game when you knew you had a back-to-back, and be in your room and get rested ’til you c–you’re ready to play.
I don’t think the schedule’s the problem, and I think just the mindset of some of the guys nowadays has changed a lot. (KALL, 1280, KSL)