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News » Monson: Is it time for Jerry Sloan to leave Jazz?

Monson: Is it time for Jerry Sloan to leave Jazz?

Monson: Is it time for Jerry Sloan to leave Jazz? Jerry Sloan re-upped for another year with the Jazz last week and there are questions to ask about that move, respectful questions that in some corners might be misinterpreted as disrespectful.

For instance, what are the Jazz trying to accomplish by extending Sloan's tenure with them?

After 22 seasons at the helm, is he going to be the difference in the 23rd season for finally winning a title?

Are the Jazz really interested in winning a championship or are they more tethered to the notion of keeping the team competitive enough to draw decent crowds, so they can stay profitable?

Are they willing to take the risks necessary to improve their roster or their coaching so they have a legitimate shot at a title?

Or, are they satisfied with the status quo, content to be good, always good, but never great?

How many titles has Sloan won as a head coach?

Those are not cheap shots. They are questions that should be asked, even as Sloan continues on with his $6 million a year salary, and the Jazz go on accomplishing what they achieved the previous season. Although, three years back, they went to the conference finals, two years back, they were eliminated in the second round, and last year they got the heave-ho in the first.

Should Sloan be able to coach as long as he wants?

Has he earned that right?

And if the Jazz never win a title, is that somehow OK because, well, this is as good as they can do as a small-market team?

Is Sloan the only anchor left? Is he the foundation, now that Larry Miller is gone and nobody else knows enough or is confident enough to lead on?

If Larry were still here, would this team look the way it does now?

Or, would there have been a bit of hell to pay for the same results with the same players and the same coaches, with the same odds that the Jazz won't win a championship this season, all at the cost of more than $80 million?

Don't misunderstand. I have tremendous respect for Jerry Sloan.

We all do. He's a man's man and when it comes to his profession, he's a pro's pro. He believes in hard work. He believes in his style of Basketball.

He coached the best teams the Jazz ever had.

He's easy to work with -- whether the Jazz win or lose. He faces the postgame music every time -- whether it's the sounds of Beethoven or the Beastie Boys. He's evolved over time, but the changes are generally glacial.

A personal aside: Sloan once had a bone to pick with me. He felt something I had written was unfair and at the team's next practice, when a crowded interview session ended, he asked: Can I talk with you?

He looked directly at me, with those dead, dark eyes, and said what was on his mind. No dancing around. No blithering. No bull. It was exactly what you'd expect from Sloan.

He said what he said. I said what I said. We shook hands and that was the end of it. Pure class on his part.

That's likely the way Sloan handles all his business -- whether it's with Deron Williams or Greg Ostertag or Andrei Kirilenko.

He's an easy man to like and respect, a Hall of Famer.

But the fact nags: The Jazz still haven't won a title.

They made almost no changes during the offseason.

Isn't that what pro sports are about?

It's not about trying, even trying honorably.

It's about doing.

Asked recently about his formula for winning a championship, Real Salt Lake general manager Garth Lagerwey said a club "absolutely" has to take risks. Holding steady, he said, does not get it done. Working hard does not get it done. Only a combination of acumen, personnel, strategy, motivation and luck gets it done.

The Jazz did not win a championship when they had two of the greatest-ever players a decade ago. True, in two of those postseasons, they faced the all-time best player. But in other playoffs of their prime, they fell to Houston, Seattle and San Antonio, when there was no Michael Jordan. And they haven't come close since.

It's fair -- no cheap shot -- to ask, top to bottom, whether they are doing everything they can to win one now. The famous Einstein quote about insanity remains as apropos with the Jazz as it ever was in any other context: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

All the while, season after season, postseason after postseason, Jazz fans must quote another genius -- Jimmy Buffett -- as they sing a tune about changes (in latitudes and attitudes) to hold it together: "If we weren't all crazy, we would go insane."

GORDON MONSON hosts the "Monson and Graham Show" weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on 1280 AM The Zone. He can be reached at .

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Added: December 7, 2009


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