But on Sunday, Sloan offered an response to a question about Kobe Bryant's play against the Jazz that raised more than a few eyebrows.
"He draws so much attention," Sloan said. "You give too much help, somebody else is open. If you don't give enough help, he's got what he wants. Kind of like Miss America. She gets what she wants."
When the analogy was relayed to Bryant, he seemed confused.
From Steve Luhm of the Salt Lake Tribune:
"Miss America?" he said.
Told that Sloan was complimenting his ability to put up huge numbers despite being the focus of opposing defenses, Bryant smiled, but only slightly.
"I'm just trying to get to my spots and, if the double comes, find the open man and, if it doesn't, go to work," he said.
On Monday, Phil Jackson acknowledged Sloan's comment, telling reporters after shootaround:
"I think Jerry calling Kobe Miss America and comparing him to that is a message," Jackson said. "That is something we will look at."
Was Sloan crediting Bryant for his ability to put up huge numbers despite being the focus of defenses, as Luhm suggests? Or was he using a strange analogy to suggest Bryant gets a little extra help from the officials? It's hard to say simply looking at his comments Sunday, but a look inside the Google tubes suggest it might be the latter.
From an article originally appearing in the Deseret News on Dec. 2, 2005 following a game in which Bryant received a critical call in the final seconds to seal a win for the Lakers:
The NBA is a star-driven league. Bryant shines. And in cases of doubt, especially when a game is on the line and cameras from a network like TNT are rolling, Kobe is more inclined than a Devin Brown to have one go his way.
No one with the Jazz was saying precisely that Friday morning, in the aftermath of Utah's stunning 105-101 Delta Center loss to the Lakers. Yet one could sense some might have been thinking along those lines.
"Miss America gets all the dates," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "You have to understand that."
Make of it what you will, but Jazz fans ought to hope Bryant didn't take it as an insult; for some reason, calling out Kobe on the eve of an elimination game doesn't seem like a good idea.