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Getting Straight
Jack McCallum
February 11, 2002
His wife's illness forced Jazz Sloan to clean up his act. Now he's in no rush to leave the NBA
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February 11, 2002

Getting Straight

His wife's illness forced Jazz Sloan to clean up his act. Now he's in no rush to leave the NBA

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And what would happen, Jerry, if you were to win a championship. Would you enjoy some champagne? He shakes his head and says, "Nah. I can get just as crazy with water."

A Jazz championship almost certainly won't come this season, probably not next, probably not the one after. Utah has failed to put the complementary parts in place that would complete the mission of Malone and Stockton. Midseason deals for guard Derek Harper in 1997 and center Rony Seikaly in '98 fell through when neither wanted to move to Salt Lake City. The Jazz has also ignored free agents with controversial pasts (players like Derrick Coleman and Isaiah Rider weren't welcome, players like Jeff Hornacek and John Crotty were), because Sloan doesn't want them on the court, Stockton and Malone don't want them in the locker room and Miller doesn't want them within the city limits.

Sloan admits he will be disappointed if he retires without winning a championship. "I know this, though," he says. "A lot of guys will show their rings to you who didn't have anything to do with winning a championship. There's something to be said for coming back after you lose, for putting yourself on the line, for having the will to try it again and again, for putting every ounce of energy into achieving something after you've fallen short. That's the kind of guys we've always had here."

That's the kind of coach they've had, too, a hard man who these days, before each home game, seeks a familiar pair of eyes and can get down to business only after he finds them. "What's happened between Bobbye and me is a good thing," says Sloan. "I've always believed that something good can come out of every bad thing. Sometimes you've gotta work awful hard to find it. But it's there."

Bobbye's doctor has promised her that he will soon write "ancient history" on her file, but in another way she already feels as if she's cured. "When you go through what we went through," says Bobbye, "things that seemed so important don't seem so important anymore. What is important is loving and having someone to love you. I think Jerry has found that. I think together we found it."

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