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Greg Ostertag Talks Jerry Sloan

May 30, 2020
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The End
Mark Eaton sent me a text about, that [Jerry’s wife Tammy] was bringing him home and they were gonna put him on morphine, and I knew his days were numbered in.

And I called Karl [Malone], crying. And I said, “You gonna…” — and he told me he was gonna try to go see him, and he went actually the next day. He was gonna wait ’til Friday, and he, you know, obviously [Jerry] didn’t make it ’til Friday.

And he c–I said, and Karl said, “If w–if I can get there, I’ll call you,” and he did. And I got to hear [Jerry’s] voice.

He didn’t say anything, but I got to hear his voice. And I told him I loved him. And I told him I wanted him to fight like he was mad at me.

And I just — I knew he was on borrowed time, but I got to hear his voice, and it was awesome, so. And I miss him. I miss him like nobody understands.

Love for Jerry
[I respected him and loved him], and I always will. And I always will. And there’s not, I know he was loved by a lot of people in, throughout the NBA, and there’s just, [but] there’s not many people that are, that will miss him and love him more than I did.

And I know that’s weird to say, ’cause everybody knows the relationship we had, but outside of his family and a few close friends, I just, I put my heart for the love of that man up against anybody, and I mean that.

On Bobbye Sloan
Bobbye was kind of our go-between when she was still alive, and when I needed somebody to talk me down — when I wanted to strangle him — I could talk to her. And I loved Bobbye Sloan.

And over the years that I got to play with the Jazz and get to know Jerry better and be around Jerry, even though we would butt heads, I loved Jerry…

There’s only two men in this world that I really love and respect more than Jerry Sloan, and that’s my dad and my grandfather. I, and that day [of Bobbye’s funeral, pictured below], you know, I just, I wanted to tell him that I loved him and I was sorry that he lost his wife, ’cause she was special.

Looking back on his career and relationship with Jerry Sloan
If I were to go back, I would definitely not have fought him quite as much as I fought him when I played, because you know, back when I played, it was all his fault that I was getting in trouble.

Now that I look at — now that I’m older and I’ve been out a long time, I really appreciate the man he was, the coach he was, and at the end of the day he only wanted what was best for not only the Jazz, but me personally.

He wanted me to give me — he wanted me to give my best and play as hard I could, and unfortunately, I was, like I said earlier, too stubborn and hardheaded to really do that, and was never able to be the player that I — that he believed, I think, that he believed I could’ve and should’ve been. And so, it turns out I was the a-hole in the big picture.

I screwed up. I didn’t give all my all. I didn’t come with the idea to make myself better. I took advantage — I took for granted that I was 7-foot-2, and thought it should’ve come easy and didn’t put in the work that I should have…

Phil [Johnson] knew there was more in there, just like Jerry was, and I was just — I ended up thinking I was more of a pissing post than I was…He was trying to get me to pull my head out and go be the player that I think everybody knew that was inside there, that just, that I wasn’t gonna let out.

I think what the fans, and Jerry, and the administration, and just the whole Utah Jazz family, was really more upset about with Greg Ostertag is that you never knew what you were gonna get every day.

You know, you could have Greg play — (laughs) I sound like Karl, talking in third person — you could, I could go out there and have a game like I did against Houston in that game we won to go to the Finals.

It’s probably the best game I ever played in my career…and go out and have a game like that, and then the next night just completely disappear like I was not even part of the team.

And it frustrated me — I promise you, it frustrated me every bit as bad as it frustrated everyone. I just was not, almost like, mentally — I had this block that I just, I would rather fight than open my mind up to what they were trying to tell me, if that makes sense, and what they were trying to get out of me.

And I, yeah, I promise, I just, I regret it every day. I regret the lack of effort and stuff I put in every day.

I mean, it keeps me awake sometimes at night, and it’s been 20 years or you know, it’s been, what, 14, 15 years since I played. I just know that I left a lot on the table, and I’m not talking about money. I just know I left a lot on the table.

The real reason his career went wrong*
When I do have time to think about it, I think the one thing that really, really, really caused me, my career to not go where it should be, was when I got there the damn mascot wouldn’t give up his damn number…

I saw the mascot [at a Buzz baseball game] and I said, “Hey man, you’re giving that number up.”

He’s like, (in old man-bear voice) “No, I had it first.”

* Jon Absey, the original Jazz Bear, was on the pod with Dan Roberts and his son, Jeremy.

Source: Voices Behind the Game Podcast.

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