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News » A fitting day for two great competitors

A fitting day for two great competitors

A fitting day for two great competitors Imagine former Bulls coach Jerry Sloan coaching former Bulls player Michael Jordan.

Each was enshrined in Basketball?s Hall of Fame on Friday, Sloan for his work as Utah coach and Jordan for being the greatest player ever.

Their careers

didn?t overlap

in Chicago. The closest they came to that is that their retired Bulls numbers ? Sloan?s 4 and Jordan?s 23 ? hang high in the United Center.

Yet their bond as Bulls alums exists. Sloan choked up during his induction speech when he mentioned his former backcourt mate, the late Norm Van Lier. In the audience Jordan appeared to tear up.

The only break in the Bulls bond on this night was Jordan?s odd, rambling, inappropriate reference to Jerry Krause.

This after the former Bulls general manager spent considerable time during the day praising Jordan on radio and TV and explaining why he didn?t attend the ceremony.

Anyway, better that we focus on the commonality of Jordan and Sloan than whatever continues to simmer between Jordan and Krause.

You have to be nearly 100 years old to recall how great a Bulls player Sloan was. He finished playing in the late 1970s, coached the Bulls from 1979-82 and now has coached the Jazz for 21 seasons.

Heck, you have to be pretty old to remember Jordan playing for the Bulls , his last game coming in 1998. How ironic that it ended with his basket beating Sloan?s Jazz to win the NBA title.

Jordan often is called the most competitive Basketball player ever, which is a misconception. He actually was the most competitive Basketball player with the greatest athletic ability, skill and intelligence to match. Then there was Sloan. Nobody in the sport, not even Jordan, was more competitive.

I covered games that both played ? a few of Sloan?s and countless of Jordan?s ? and have this observation:

Sloan played the way he did out of a fear of failure because he didn?t have immense athletic tools; Jordan played the way he did to maximize his immense athletic gifts.

Let?s go back to the original fantasy: what would it have been like if Sloan coached Jordan?

Sloan has survived coaching by establishing his terms for all Jazz players from superstars on down. Meanwhile, Jordan won six NBA titles and became the greatest player ever mostly on his own terms.

So how would this coach-player dynamic have worked? Just fine, that?s how. Jordan might have won the same six titles with Sloan sitting in Phil Jackson?s chair.

The whole deal for Jordan and Sloan was winning. They would have loved each other?s competitiveness.

Jordan would have respected Sloan?s authority or they would have had one bloody fistfight. A good guess is Sloan would have won the fight but Jordan would have come out even tougher than he already was.

My goodness, pity the poor NBA teams that would have challenged them.

Too bad Jordan and Sloan never intersected with the Bulls but now, finally, they are on the same team at the same time.

They entered the Hall of Fame together, fitting for two of the greatest competitors ever in sports generally and Chicago specifically.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: September 15, 2009


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