Jerry Sloan's departure from the Utah Jazz last February was abrupt, and not just because it happened in the middle of the season or what appeared to be a falling out with the culture of the modern NBA. Sloan, more than any other coach save Tom Thibodeau (maybe), seemed to experience basketball as part of his soul. It's still tough to imagine him apart from the sport, in the same way that no one thinks of Sinbad without a really baggy nylon sweatsuit.
When we last heard from Sloan, he had sold most of his gigantic tractor collection and seemed content to hang around his farm spinning wisdom about the inexorable march of time. Now, though, he seems to be missing basketball something fierce. From Sam Amick for SI.com (via EOB):
"I think if the right situation came along, whatever that is," he said before pausing to ponder. "I don't know what the right situation is. We'll have to wait and see, I guess."
"Before, I was just visiting with people [from teams], but they knew that I wasn't ready to coach ... back in the summer," said Sloan, who returned to his house in Utah in recent months. "I didn't know if anybody was going to call [after that]. Maybe they won't. I don't know what my reaction would be. I had some people call when they'd lost their coaches. I was honest with them."
But the honest truth has changed since then. And considering energy has played such a significant part in Sloan's decision-making, he's sounding as if a return could be in the cards. "My energy level has changed a great deal since I quit coaching," said Sloan, who is an avid walker. "It's changed a lot now. I've had time to work out. I feel better.
"I had a chance to relax, to do something that I haven't had the time to do in 30 years. That's rewarding. You have time to spend with the family and have Thanksgiving and things like that. I enjoyed all of that. But [returning to coaching] is a decision where, if somebody talked to me, I'd review the situation like anybody else and take it from there."
These comments are vague to the point where it's impossible to take anything specific from them. Sloan doesn't even have a sense of his ideal job — for all we know that would involve coaching a bunch of eight-year-olds at the local YMCA.
Still, it's easy to take this news as a positive, if only because Sloan sounds like he wants to get back into the world of basketball. He's a lifer, whether he admits it or not, and the sport is worse off when he's away. Even if he just calls a few games on local Salt Lake City TV every year, it'll be good for the league. If he's involved with hoops, no matter in what capacity, we should celebrate it.