SALT LAKE CITY - Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan stepped down Thursday after 23 seasons and 1,127 wins as coach of the Utah Jazz, saying he simply ran out of energy.
“I had a feeling this time was the time to move on,” an emotional Sloan said during a Thursday afternoon news conference. “(That’s) a long time to be in one organization. Again, I’ve been blessed. When I get this over with, I’ll feel better. My time is up, and it’s time to move on.”
Longtime assistant Phil Johnson also resigned, surprising even Sloan during their postgame chat Wednesday night with general manager Kevin O’Connor.
“I came with him and I’ll leave with him,” Johnson, 69, said Thursday.
The two men agreed to sleep on their decisions Wednesday night at the request of team owners and O’Connor.
Nothing changed in the morning, and Sloan, 68, reported sleeping better than he has in weeks. Asked what he’ll do, Sloan said he didn’t know, and that he expected to be a “dizzy duck” for a while.
Jazz CEO Greg Miller said he tried to persuade Sloan to stay.
Jazz assistant Tyrone Corbin, 48, was named the new coach, and team officials made it clear there is no “interim” tag next to his name.
The moves came on the heels of an emotional 91-86 loss Wednesday night to the Chicago Bulls, Utah’s 10th setback in 14 games.
But Sloan, the longest-tenured coach in the four major North American professional sports, insisted that wasn’t the final straw.
O’Connor also said reports that star guard Deron Williams had said it was either “me or Sloan” were false.
The team started 15-5 but fell to 31-23 after the loss to Chicago, the only other team Sloan has coached (he was 94-121 in nearly three seasons with the Bulls).
He ranks third all-time in NBA wins behind Don Nelson (1,335) and Lenny Wilkens (1,332).