Media members who cover the league did not see fit to name Jerry Sloan NBA Coach of the Year after this season, instead voting for Memphis Grizzlies coach Hubie Brown.

The Jazz head coach's peers, however, saw things differently after he squeezed 42 victories in 82 games out of a rebuilding team most expected to lose many more than it won.

Sloan was named Coach of the Year by The Sporting News on Tuesday, garnering 12 1/2 of 24 votes cast by fellow coaches from throughout the league. Brown finished second with 9 1/2 votes, followed by Denver's Jeff Bzdelik and Miami's Stan Van Gundy in a tie for third with one vote apiece.

Sloan, predictably, downplayed the honor — and shared the praise with his staff of assistants, Phil Johnson, Gordie Chiesa and Kenny Natt.

"I certainly wasn't deserving," he said by phone from his Illinois farm, "but if they thought that about us as a group, I can accept that.

"I've always thought things like that should be an organizational award," Sloan added. "It shouldn't be an individual award, in my opinion — regardless of who votes."

Sloan, 62, recently completed his 16th season as head coach of the Jazz — easily the longest same-team tenure in the league. His assistants — Johnson, Chiesa and Natt — have worked with him 16, 15 and nine seasons, respectively.

It remains to be seen, however, whether the foursome will return intact next season.

Sloan said he still plans to be back for a 17th season, but longtime top assistant Johnson has been contacted by the Toronto Raptors regarding their vacant head coaching position.

Johnson is interested but is waiting for the Raptors to name a new general manager before pursuing the post.

"I wouldn't stand in anybody's way in that situation, and obviously I think he's the best man for the job," Sloan said. "He's done a terrific job for our organization, and it would be a tremendous loss if he left. But he has to do what's best for him and his family."

The Sporting News handed out several other awards in its May 24 issue, including an All-NBA Team, selected by a vote of executives from throughout the league, consisting of Los Angeles Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal, forwards Tim Duncan of San Antonio and Kevin Garnett of Minnesota, and guards Jason Kidd of New Jersey and Kobe Bryant of the Lakers.

The magazine also named NBA MVP Garnett its Player of the Year, Cleveland's LeBron James its Rookie of the Year and, in a vote of fellow execs, Grizzlies general manager Jerry West its Executive of the Year.

West received 16 1/2 of 35 votes, well ahead of runner-up Kevin McHale of the Minnesota Timberwolves, who had five. Kevin O'Connor, the Jazz's senior vice president for basketball operations, finished third with three votes.

O'Connor took on the task of retooling the Jazz's roster following the departure of two future hall-of-famers, retired John Stockton and departed Karl Malone of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Sloan took over from there, taking the Jazz to within two wins of their 21st consecutive playoff appearance.

His reward for doing so: an honor for which Sloan insists he does not deserve full credit.

"It's obviously nice that they thought that," he said of fellow coaches, "but really, when it's all said and done, it should be more of an organizational award."


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com