SALT LAKE CITY — Not surprisingly, Jerry Sloan thanked the late Larry H. Miller during a press conference to announce that the Hall of Fame coach had received a prestigious honor from the NBA.
Before every season, Sloan recalled, Miller reminded that cast of Jazz players exactly who was boss in the Utah locker room.
“He’s going to be here,” Miller told players, referring to Sloan, “and you guys might not be.”
Years later, Sloan, who always expresses gratitude for the Miller family’s loyalty, is no longer coaching, but another impressive line was added to his basketball resume.
As part of the NBA Finals Game 3 festivities in Cleveland on Wednesday, Sloan was honored as a co-recipient of the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award.
Sloan and fellow award-winner K.C. Jones, the former Boston Celtics coach, were recognized at halftime of the Warriors-Cavaliers game at The Q.
The honor provided a heartwarming experience for Sloan, who recently announced that he’s battling Parkinsons disease and Lewy body dementia.
“It is a special treat for me to be attending Game 3 of this exciting NBA Finals and to accept the 2016 NBA Coaches Association Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award, along with a fine gentleman and outstanding coach, K.C. Jones,” Sloan said in a statement through Jazz PR.
“Like Coach Daly, I loved coaching and did my best to approach the job with professionalism, the concept of team effort and always playing hard. I thank my fellow coaches and all of my friends from the bottom of my heart for this special honor.”
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle helped present the award to Sloan, whom he humorously and accurately referred to as “one of the all-time ass kickers in this league.”
During his head-coaching stint from 1988-2011, Sloan earned 1,223 regular season and playoff victories with the Jazz, led Utah to 19 playoff appearances, a pair of NBA Finals (1997, 98), earned seven division titles and racked up 13 seasons with 50 or more wins.
Sloan was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009. The Jazz raised a banner in his honor in 2014.
Before he suddenly and unexpectedly resigned in 2011, Sloan was the longest-tenured coach of the four major sports in the U.S.
“Jerry Sloan is a coaching icon because of his longevity, adaptability and creativity,” Carlisle said. “Jerry’s run of 23 years in Utah is the longest in NBA history and a testament to his competitive greatness. K.C. Jones and Jerry Sloan embody what the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award is all about.”
The annual award honors the memory of the late Daly, a Hall of Fame coach who, as the Jazz’s press release reminded, was respected for “a standard of integrity, competitive excellence and tireless promotion of NBA basketball.”