The banner the Jazz organization raised Friday night during a halftime ceremony displayed Sloan’s 1,223 wins as Jazz coach from 1988-2011, an unheard of feat considering the average length of an NBA coach’s career is about three years, according to a 2011 report in Forbes.
What was more impressive was that Sloan did it all in one place, Utah. A market that is one of the smallest -- if not the smallest -- in major professional sports.
That Sloan did as much by sticking to his principles as a coach and person is big -- as his former players would attest.
“Just being around Coach Sloan,” Malone said in the pre-event press conference, “if you played hard and handled your business, you had an opportunity to play.”
Even Deron Williams, who was credited with more or less running Sloan out as Jazz head coach had nice things to say about his former mentor in an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune.
"A big part of my success early in my career was due to him and the things he kind of instilled in me," said Williams, who now plays for the Brooklyn Nets. "So I’m definitely happy for him, and it’s going to be a special moment. The fans there just love him to death."
But, even Sloan has been credited with creating a form of motion offense that became commonplace in other smaller markets.
If not for the pick-and-roll that became synonymous with Stockton-to-Malone, current San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich wouldn’t have his small-market team still competing for titles.
That offense helped even the playing field for teams like the Jazz and Spurs, who without such an ingenuous scheme, may not have ever been able to compete with the Lakers, Bulls and other larger-market teams.
To give you another idea how rare Sloan’s feat of coaching in one place is, consider this: current Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin -- who began his coaching career in 2011 after Sloan resigned -- is now at or near the top 10 in coaching tenure in the league.
The second? Popovich, naturally.