August 03, 2011
As we take stock of what we will lose with the NBA lockout, we must also never forget to remember what we said goodbye to during the 2010-11 season. Our now-absent NBA heroes will return eventually, but last season's retired coaches and players are gone forever.
With that in mind, we should think of Jerry Sloan, who retired abruptly in February in a way that posited him as a man too gruff and old-school for the modern NBA. Sloan is a tough man who expects results with a minimum of complaints, and it's likely that he was just tired of dealing with a different kind of athlete. So he retired to his home in Illinois, where he could ride tractors and live at peace.
However, it appears that even that lifestyle was too glamorous for Sloan. So he sold almost all of his impressive tractor collection. From Brad Rock for the Deseret News:
His 70-unit tractor collection in Illinois has dwindled to two. Jerry Sloan sold all the others this summer, shortly after a thief made off with a 35-year old Allis-Chalmers. The tractor wasn't expensive, valued at only around $5,000. But it got him thinking about the stuff he had accumulated; thinking about clutter.
"I'm trying to simplify," Sloan said Tuesday. [...]
Meanwhile, Sloan watches the game from afar. He said he enjoyed the NBA playoffs this spring on TV, but the thing he most misses is working with coaches like Phil Johnson, Gordon Chiesa, Tyrone Corbin, Scott Layden and Frank Layden. His other enjoyment was his collection of farm equipment. He and his first wife had planned to retire and run an antique business.
"But that didn't work out," he said, "so it's time to move on and get out of the junk business."
Somehow, this way of life seems like one particularly well-suited to Sloan, a man who always projected the sense that he'd rather coach a practice in an otherwise empty gym than a game in front of 20,000 fans. It's a wonder how he ever bought 70 tractors when one would work just fine. Shouldn't he have spun some kind of down-home wisdom about how they'll all end up as rust in the end? I don't know, maybe I just imagine him acting like Doc Platter and getting philosophical about how the soil don't keep too many secrets.
Sloan has been mentioned in connection to several coaching jobs this offseason without being a serious candidate for any. Perhaps, at some point, he will return to the league. As things currently stand, though, he might be best-suited to stay out of the limelight and let people remember him as a beloved figure of a bygone era. There's no shame in staying retired if it's the best course of action.