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Sloan says Dantley worthy of number retirement

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Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan is completely in favor of his team's decision to finally retire the No. 4 of Adrian Dantley, who was on the Jazz team when Sloan was brought in as an assistant in November 1984 but was traded away in August 1986.

"Without a doubt," Sloan said of Dantley being worthy of the number retirement that will take place April 11 when the Denver Nuggets visit. Dantley is in his fourth season as a Nuggets assistant coach.

"He's a big-time player. He could play with anybody," Sloan said. "He was just almost unstoppable with the kind of player he was and his size and everything."

Dantley and Sloan wore the same NBA number, and Sloan's No. 4 hangs at Chicago's United Center, retired Feb. 17, 1978, at the old Chicago Stadium, where Sloan played for 13 years and coached for another five.

But Dantley, who wondered for 10 or 15 years if the Jazz would ever retire his No. 4 and finally got the word they would this week, will likely enjoy it more than Sloan said he did.

In his own case, Sloan said he didn't necessarily consider it a big honor because he didn't play just to have his jersey retired, and he didn't win a championship in it.

"It's hanging up there, but it doesn't mean anything," he said. "Never won anything."

And the No. 4 wasn't all that sentimental for Sloan, either.

The Bulls were an expansion team when he got there, and he said all the numbers were laid out on a bench.

"I was never that greedy to go be the first guy to get a number, and that's the only one that was left," he said Friday.

SLEEVES: Sloan did recall wearing those old T-shirt jerseys with sleeves in college, and he liked them. "Those were wonderful," he said. "I always agreed with my college coach. You have a better chance of recruiting skinny guys that can play if you cover up their shoulders."

'D' FOR DEFENSE: Dantley is still the No. 18 career scorer in the NBA, but Sloan saw a defender not used.

"This is one of the things that I said when I first came here — he was probably, technique-wise, the best defender we had on the team," Sloan said. "He was used to score, and his energy wasn't into the defense like a lot of guys, but technique-wise, nobody had better technique than he did.

"He wasn't off-balance. He could get in front of guys. He always used his hands properly, or what I thought was proper."

'D' FOR DEERE: Sloan spotted Deron Williams wearing a John Deere baseball cap Williams had found in the bleachers at the practice facility, and being the old John Deere-loving farmer that he is, Sloan said he had to go get the hat off Williams because, "He might have a heart attack with that on."

AMAECHI BOOK: Former teammate John Amaechi, who announced he is gay, mentioned in his new book, "Man in the Middle," that he appreciated kindness shown him by Andrei Kirilenko. Kirilenko invited Amaechi to his parties. The young Russian said Friday, "Of course, I invited everybody. Even if I knew he is gay, it's not going to change my mind about him. He is a great person; that's enough for me."

In the book, Amaechi identifies Kirilenko by the nickname "Malinka," which he interpreted as Russian for "little one."

"I think it comes from Greek," Kirilenko said, recalling that Amaechi played in Greece and surmising that the word meant something to Amaechi because of that. Kirilenko said he didn't identify it with being Russian. "It means something in Russian, but he was pronouncing it wrong," he said.

E-mail: lham@desnews.com