Sloan's Tenure in Utah Leaves Van Gundy in Awe
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy shakes his head in amazement, then stands back in awe of Sloan's accomplishment.
Sloan is in the midst of his 22nd season as coach of the Utah Jazz, easily the longest tenured coach in league history, and the longest tenured coach still active in any of the major professional sports leagues.
"I think it's absolutely phenomenal what Jerry has done. It's incredible,'' Van Gundy said before the Magic and Jazz tipped off Monday night. "For him to be able to do this for as long as he has, I don't know if that's great mental toughness, or if the guy is just out of his mind.''
Sloan recently signed an extension committing him for next season. Sloan, 67, has won 1,059 games with the Jazz, the only coach in NBA history to crack the 1,000-victory mark with one team. During Sloan's tenure, there have been 235 coaching changes made around the league.
"My god, I'm in my fifth season (third in Orlando) of this, and it's tiring. It's mentally wearing,'' Van Gundy said. "It's remarkable what Jerry has done. And it's remarkable for the organization.''
By comparison, Sloan was coaching in Utah before the Magic franchise even started playing in 1989. Van Gundy is the seventh Magic coach he has gone against in Orlando. And that doesn't even count the two interim coaches who were part of the mix.
"The sports accomplishments I admire the most are the ones with a measure of longevity -- Cal Ripken's streak, A.C. Green's streak (of consecutive games played),'' Van Gundy said. "It's more of what a guy can do over the course of his career than what he has done in a week, a month, or season. For a coach to last two decades in one place today, you will never, ever see that again.''
Sloan was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame this summer and he was profiled by Chris Tomasson of FanHouse in October. Sloan has never won a championship -- losing in the NBA Finals twice to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls -- but does rank fourth on the all-time victories list. By comparison, the legendary Red Auerbach lasted 16 seasons with the Boston Celtics.
"Nothing in coaching impresses me as much as what Jerry has done. Phil Jackson's championships impress the hell out of me. John Wooden's championships (at UCLA) impress me,'' Van Gundy said. "But nothing impresses me more than what Jerry has done in Utah. I stand in awe, but with no desire to ever try and top him.''