Many in the NBA community took to social media to pay tribute to Sloan, who retired in 2011 as the longest-tenured head coach with one franchise in any major professional sport.
“Jerry Sloan was among the NBA’s most respected and admired legends,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement on Friday. “He was the first coach to win 1,000 games with the same organization, which came to embody the qualities that made Jerry a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer: persistence, discipline, drive and selflessness.”
Current Jazz head coach Quin Snyder, now in his sixth season with Utah, spoke fondly about his time with Sloan and what it means to follow in his footsteps.
“The clear identity that he established for Jazz Basketball — unselfishness, toughness and the essential importance of Team — has always left a palpable responsibility to strive for in carrying forward,” Snyder tweeted. “He will be missed and mourned by the Jazz family, the NBA and beyond.”
Opponents also paid homage to Sloan, including Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul and Pat Riley, the former Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Miami Heat head coach who is now the Heat’s president.
Prayers are with Jerry Sloan’s family today. The game lost a legend 🙏🏾
— Chris Paul (@CP3) May 22, 2020
Pat Riley statement on the passing of Jerry Sloan
“It was a privilege to play against a Jerry Sloan coached team, I always knew that we would be severely tested. His overall philosophy on both sides of the ball was fundamentally solid and always one step ahead of the game.” pic.twitter.com/Xv42JvBmO4
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) May 22, 2020
Sloan left an enduring legacy in Salt Lake City, coaching 133 players during his time as head coach of the Jazz. Many of the franchise’s prominent names shared their memories and appreciation for their coach.
“I think that for all of his intensity on the court and his demand for doing it the right way, the fact that he’d come to shootaround with his John Deere hat on and just be so down to earth in terms of who he was off the court, I think it’s the most endearing quality about him that really resonated with players,” former Jazz All-Star center Mark Eaton told ESPN’s Eric Woodyard. “In the crazy world of the NBA and all the crazy stories you hear every day and here’s this guy who’s from [Illinois] the heartland of America who just came to work, put his work boots on and just said, ‘Let’s get to it.’ It was just something that is a rare find in the world today and I think that’s what made him so unique and what everybody loved about him.”
Darrell Griffith, who along with Eaton has his number retired by the Jazz, echoed Sloan’s impact on the franchise.
“He brought a lot to the game. He knew a lot about the game, he was a student of the game, he learned a lot from [former Jazz coach Frank Layden] and as a player, he brought that to the players on the floor,” Griffith said. “He brought a lot to the game and I learned a lot from him as a coach and as a human being so it was sad news for me to hear today.”
Other former Jazz stars such as Gordon Hayward and Carlos Boozer took to Twitter and Instagram to pay their respects to Sloan.
I didn’t get to spend a lot of time playing for Coach Sloan, but coming in as a rookie he had a major impact on my transition to the @NBA. I’m grateful for that. Prayers to his family, friends and loved ones. May he Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/DYJ4F4CvRw
— Gordon Hayward (@gordonhayward) May 22, 2020
Heaven better be ready for you Jerry. Go coach ’em up! Thanks for the privilege of playing for you. Rest In Peace coach. pic.twitter.com/doTeGdBNBX
— Thurl Bailey (@bigTbailey) May 22, 2020
RIP Coach.. You don’t think of the Jazz without thinking of Coach Sloan, Thankyou. https://t.co/89I7uUeZqy
— Joe Ingles (@Joeingles7) May 22, 2020
R.I.P Jerry Sloan 🙏🏽
— Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) May 22, 2020
Sources — NBA Board of Governors expected to approve Adam Silver’s restart plan Thursday
The NBA is planning a Thursday vote of the league’s Board of Governors — with owners expected to approve commissioner Adam Silver’s recommendation on a format to restart the season in Orlando, Florida, sources tell ESPN.
The NBA has been examining several plans on a return-to-play, but numerous members of the Board of Governors tell ESPN that there’s growing support for a plan to bring 22 teams to Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports in July.
This format would likely include regular-season and play-in games to compete for playoff berths in both the Eastern and Western Conferences, sources said.
The NBA needs a three-fourths majority of owners to approve a return-to-play plan and an overwhelming majority of owners expressed a desire to do precisely that on both a Board of Governors call on Friday and later in interviews with ESPN.
“We are lining up behind him on this,” one owner told ESPN on Friday. “The posturing will end. Nothing is going to be perfect for everyone.”
The NBA has yet to endorse a plan, and only one of the four ideas presented on Friday’s Board of Governors call is no longer believed to be a legitimate consideration — bringing back all 30 teams, sources said.
The 22-team plan would include teams that are currently within six games of the final playoff spots in each conference, sources said.
New Orleans, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento and San Antonio would land in Orlando under those guidelines, with Washington joining as the only team within six games of the eighth-seed in the Eastern Conference.
A proposal for 20 teams remains alive, and that would include only New Orleans, Portland, San Antonio and Sacramento in that format, sources said.
Discussions have centered on these formats including several regular-season games and a play-in tournament to decide the playoff participants.
Regardless of how many teams are ultimately included in the playoffs, the NBPA has consistently stressed that it wants several regular-season games played prior to the start of the playoffs, sources said. That has been a prevailing sentiment among several contending teams who prefer a tune-up before entering into the postseason, sources said.
The NBA and NBPA are also mindful of generating revenue on the resumption of a season, and regular season and play-in games at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports will generate increased money — as opposed to only restarting the season with the playoffs. ESPN is owned by the Walt Disney Company.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe contributed to this story.
Massachusetts pro teams can reopen practice facilities, governor says
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker says the state’s five professional sports teams — the Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics, Boston Bruins, New England Patriots and New England Revolution — can resume practicing at their respective facilities on June 6.
But Baker made clear the reopening of those facilities must be done in accordance with the health and safety rules that each of the leagues are developing.
The Celtics announced they will begin voluntary individual workouts at their facility on Monday. Workouts will be conducted in accordance with city, state, CDC and NBA requirements, with only four players allowed to workout at a time.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday following an owners conference call the virtual offseason is being extended for two more weeks. In a memo sent to the 32 teams and obtained by The Associated Press, he outlined the next phase of reopening of club facilities, which can begin Monday.
NBA teams have allowed players back at their training facilities for voluntary sessions since May 8, with more than half of the league’s franchises having already taken advantage of that opportunity.
The NHL, which is ironing out details to resume its season by jumping straight to a 24-team playoff format, released a memo this week saying it is targeting early next month as the start date for Phase 2 of its return-to-play protocol. It includes the opening of practice rinks and allowing small, voluntary group workouts on and off the ice.
Majority of NBA GMs vote to restart season by going straight to playoffs
As the NBA’s board of governors met Friday afternoon to assess options for how to restart the season, the league’s general managers have expressed their preference to go straight to the playoffs.
In a survey of all 30 general managers, which was viewed by ESPN, 16 said they would prefer the league come back with just the typical 16 playoff teams, with the teams and seedings based on the standings when the season was suspended March 12.
That was one of four potential return-to-play options presented, and it earned more votes than the other three options combined:
• Resume the regular season with all 30 teams followed by a play-in tournament (8 votes);
• Go straight to the playoffs with either a play-in tournament or a World Cup-style group stage (5 votes);
• Resume the regular season with all 30 teams and then go straight to the playoffs (1 vote).
This was one of more than 10 questions on the survey, which covered a variety of topics, ranging from roster sizes to how long the season should last. But, not surprisingly, most of the questions centered on what the league’s return to play should look like and how it should be formatted.
In addition to preferring a return with just playoff teams, there also was a slight preference to keep the traditional playoff format, which received 16 votes. An option to reseed the 16 playoff teams regardless of conferences received 14 votes.
There were also several questions about what a potential “playoff-plus” model might look like, in terms of how many teams would be involved and how it would be formatted. A play-in tournament for the seventh and eighth spots in each conference — with the top six advancing directly to the playoffs — received the most votes with 13. A play-in tournament for the eighth spot in each conference received nine votes, while a group stage format got eight votes.
When asked how many teams should participate in one of these expanded playoff formats, there were 15 votes for 20 teams, while seven voted for 24, five for 18 and three for 22.
One thing that achieved widespread consensus was the need for teams to have more flexibility with their rosters no matter how the league chooses to resume play. When asked if the playoffs should have expanded rosters or teams should have more of an ability to replace players sidelined by injury or illness, only two teams voted for neither option. Twelve voted for expanded rosters, and 16 voted for an increased ability to replace players who are injured or sick.
Meanwhile, when asked on a 1-5 scale for what extent they would support increasing the number of inactive roster spots available to teams, 13 voted for “5” (strongly support), while eight others voted for either 3 or 4.
There also was a strong preference to add two-way players to playoff rosters — something that previously wasn’t the case. Only three teams said they would vote against adding two-way players to playoff rosters, while 19 said they would support it if rosters remain the same size. The eight other teams said they would support adding two-way players even if rosters expanded beyond 15.
In addition, 16 teams said they preferred that the league add two roster spots for the playoffs, while nine voted for one extra spot and five voted for three.
Among questions regarding a return of all 30 teams and a resumption of the regular season, 18 of the 30 teams voted for getting all teams to 72 games — meaning all 30 teams would play 5-9 more games. Twelve teams voted for getting all teams to 76, which would require teams to play 9-13 games.
Those votes fell in line with a question asking what the minimum number of regular-season games needed for a return to play was, with 12 teams voting for five and nine voting for 10 or more.
The question that saw the most divided responses was one about when the season should end. Presented with five options — Labor Day, Sept. 15, Oct. 1, Oct. 15, and Nov. 1 — none received 10 votes. Oct. 1 led the way with nine votes, followed by Sept. 15 (seven), Nov. 1 (six), Oct. 15 (five) and Labor Day (three).
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