Coaching Leadership, Player Leadership, and Inmates Running the Asylum
By Ken K. Gourdin
Salt Lake Tribune Columnist and Utah Jazz radio personality Gordon Monson recently ran a column about a telling conversation he had with Utah Jazz assistant coach Sidney Lowe, who could not name someone with the potential to become a John-Stockton-like or Karl-Malone-like leader on the Jazz. Do the Jazz’s problems start with a lack of player leadership or with a lack of coaching leadership? Find Monson’s column here (last accessed today): http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/jazz/57707562-87/jazz-lowe-guys-burke.html.csp. The commenter to whom I replied opined that former Jazz guard Deron Williams (aka D-Will) was the Jazz’s needed floor leader, but the Jazz traded him away after his confrontation with then-longtime-Jazz-Coach Jerry Sloan. I replied:
Your disagreement is misdirected. I loved D-Will while he was here, but it’s one thing to be willing (to not be afraid) to tell off a teammate who needs it; it’s another thing entirely to do that with a coach who had the quarter-century history like that of a Jerry Sloan. The majority of teams in the league, if the “right” player has a problem with the coach, the coach is gone: the inmates run the asylum. Recently, the Jazz have had that problem: D-Will was one of the inmates who wanted to run the asylum; Raja Bell was another of the inmates who wanted to run the asylum; and C.J. Miles was another of the inmates who wanted to run the asylum.
When D-Will was here, the Jazz didn’t need to become yet another of those teams, and they still don’t. I don’t know anything about Brooklyn’s owner, but if he’s anything like the president of his home country, I doubt he’d let the inmates run the asylum. I don’t know if John Stockton or Karl Malone ever disagreed with Coach Sloan, but if they did, they never let on publicly. If the current Jazz coaching staff doesn’t have anybody who can spot who, on the team, has leadership qualities and then can use those leadership qualities to the coach’s advantage (or if the Jazz roster simply doesn’t include anyone with such qualities) then coaching changes, personnel changes, or both need to be made.
It makes me appreciate a Malone, a Stockton, and a Sloan all the more. Those guys are exceedingly rare.