Jerry Sloan is awesome. He was a two-time NBA All-Star and four-time member of the league's All-Defensive First Team as a player, and he's won more than 1,200 games as a coach. Plus, he curses a bunch, which any 13-year-old will tell you is totally rad.
Although he's never won an NBA title, Sloan's teams have nearly always been competitive, defense-oriented, efficient offensive squads built in the coach's own effective-but-not-flashy image. He's become the face of steady, continual NBA achievement, a symbol of the brand of grinding greatness that has become customary in Salt Lake City during his 21-year stewardship of the Utah Jazz franchise.
Unfortunately, his sinus-rhythm success goes largely overlooked year after year; despite having racked up the third-highest win total of any coach in NBA history, he's never been named the league's Coach of the Year. This fact now seems to elicit more columns about the grave injustice of Sloan's lack of hardware than it does actual votes in recognition of his consistently stellar work, which is, y'know, kind of dumb.
So I'm totally down with Sloan getting whatever honors and recognition anyone wants to give him, whether we're talking about having his number retired by the Chicago Bulls (it was raised to the rafters in 1978), getting inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (he was enshrined in 2009) ... or having a Jazz fan get a huge tattoo of the coach riding a big John Deere tractor on his right arm.
The tractor bit seems pretty weird at first blush, but when you consider that donning a John Deere hat has been a Sloan signature over the years and that he collects and restores John Deere tractors as a hobby, you get why the fan chose that image. Well, kind of.
We don't know the fan's name or exactly when he got the ink — a Twitpic of the tat (or, I suppose, one exactly like it) was posted to a now-defunct account on Jan. 2, 2011, though, so sometime around the holidays seems like a reasonable assumption. Thanks to the clip above, though, we know why he got it.
"Jerry could have retired when his wife was sick, and he stuck with the Jazz," the tattoo enthusiast says in the clip. "He's devoted himself, so ... [I wanted to] kind of show him some appreciation."
You've got to respect how much this dude respects Sloan's loyalty. And, according to the fan, when approached about the idea, Sloan appreciated the appreciation. Well, kind of.
"I showed him a picture, and he was like, 'That's good-looking. I approve of it,'" the fan says in the clip. "Like I said, he told me, 'It's your body — do what you want with it.'"
On the one hand, yes, "I approve of it" does seem to constitute a literal endorsement of the action. On the other, though, "It's your body — do what you want with it" remains just as thinly veiled a way of saying "Your mother is going to kill you and I wash my hands of this" today as it was when your father tersely said it after you decided shaving only half your head would be a good look for eighth-grade class pictures. So, if it were me, I'd have taken that with a grain, or maybe a lake full, of salt. Then again, I'm kind of dull that way.
The fan says he plans to continue with his Jazz-related tattoos, filling up his arm with images of the franchise's eight division banners (which is kind of sad, because, y'know, "division" rather than "championship") and the numbers that have been retired in Utah. Talk about commitment. Someone get this dude in a room with the current iteration of the Jazz; maybe he could help inspire them out of their present six-game skid.
Video courtesy of the official YouTube channel of the Utah Jazz.
- Jerry Sloan