Phil Johnson Rumors
Sloan’s former top assistant, Phil Johnson, now works as a Jazz broadcaster but said he has no regrets about stepping down with Sloan, especially since he gets to stay in the game without all the travel. Recalling that night, when the Jazz lost to the Bulls, he said: “It was just time. It had stacked up during the course of the year and when he left I decided to go, too.”
Tyrone Corbin just shook his head. “Five games in a lot of things could change,” the Jazz coach said. “It’s a long season, I don’t know what the expectations were. It’s unfortunate it had to happen and it happened so soon.” Word of Mike Brown’s firing as the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers quickly traveled to Denver, where the Jazz were shooting around at Pepsi Center. “It’s unfortunate,” Corbin said. “It’s unfortunate anytime anybody loses a job like that, it’s just unfortunate that it happened to him.”
At least three head coaching jobs were offered to him. “It just wasn’t quite right,” he continues. Johnson left millions on the table by not taking another head coaching position. No matter, he says, he was “very well taken care of” by former owner Larry H. Miller . He doesn’t say how much, but considering Sloan made $5 million a year with the Jazz, it’s safe to assume Johnson did nicely.
When Sloan took over the Jazz in 1988, Johnson came with the deal. They stayed that way for 23 seasons. You have to wonder why a guy would voluntarily remain an assistant coach for a quarter century, when his name arose regularly on the list of head coaching candidates. “If you check your ego at the door and just want to coach, that’s the main thing,” he explains.
Johnson was equally touched, calling his induction a “great honor.” “We’ve had so many good experiences here,” said Johnson, who attended Utah State and coached at Weber State. Sloan continued to leave the door open for a possible return to coaching. “I’ll just see what happens,” he said. “If there’s interest, there is. If there’s no interest, that’s fine, too.”
The two were inducted Wednesday into the 2011 class of the Utah Sports Hall of Fame. They were joined by former NFL official Doug Toole, ex-University of Utah All-American softball player Annette Ausseresses and Natalie Williams, a 2000 Olympic gold medalist with the USA women’s basketball team and former Utah Starzz player. Sloan has received many honors during his life and he is a member of the Naismith Hall of Fame. But he acknowledged that Wednesday’s induction was especially touching. His coaching career was linked with Johnson’s. And the longtime friends who left the Jazz together stood side by side prior to their enshrinement. “Phil and I worked very well together because we thought … the same way on certain things and ideas about trying to play the game,” Sloan said.
Longtime Jazz coaches Jerry Sloan and Phil Johnson headline the Utah Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2011, which will be inducted Wednesday night at EnergySolutions Arena. Former basketball star Natalie Williams, ex-University of Utah softball All-American Annette Ausseresses and veteran NFL official Doug Toole will also be enshrined. Sloan, Utah’s head coach, and Johnson, his lead assistant, spent 23 seasons together with the Jazz. They resigned midway through last season.
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.”
Sloan and longtime Utah assistant Phil Johnson unexpectedly resigned Feb. 10. Johnson told The Tribune on Sunday that he has no interest in coaching again, and does not think that his lifelong friend does, either. “In our business, you can never say never,” Johnson said. “I just doubt either one of us would coach again. That’s just a feeling.” He added: “It was time to get out of it. That’s the bottom line.”
The first thing was to offer Johnson the job. But before Miller could speak, Johnson said he was leaving with Sloan. “And Jerry had this look on his face,” Miller said. “He told me (later) that that was the first he’d heard of that.”
KSL Sports has learned through sources that a press conference will be held later today at which time Jazz Coach Jerry Sloan and assistant Phil Johnson will resign their positions effective immediately.