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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.