DENVER -- Rick Carlisle summed up his respect for Jerry Sloan with one sentence: "Jerry is basketball royalty to us."
Carlisle, like coaches around the league, was stunned by Sloan’s sudden resignation Thursday after 23 years at the helm of the Utah Jazz. And he was annoyed by the "fodder and hearsay" that Sloan left due to a rift with point guard Deron Williams, which was reportedly rooted in the coach's refusal to change and cede control to the perennial All-Star.
"He has been a master of adjusting to the way the game has changed, the way his personnel has changed," said Carlisle, who spent a handful of days learning from Sloan during training camp when taking a year off from coaching in 2000. "He did almost all the play-calling in the Malone-Stockton years, because that's the way John and Karl were comfortable. The system they've adopted in the last five or six years with Deron Williams, the point guard did the majority of the play-calling. It was a flow offense.
"I really marvel about how he's been able to adjust to the game over that period of time. His contributions to coaching and coaches have been gigantic. I'm one that really appreciates what he's brought to the game."
Carlisle, who has also been a head coach in Detroit and Indiana, predicted with extreme confidence that no NBA coach would ever stay with one team for so long again. Carlisle marveled at Sloan's ability to consistently prepare his teams so well and get his players to give so much effort for so long.
"The guy has just stood for everything that was right about our league for such a long period of time," said Carlisle, the Mavs' eighth head coach since Sloan was promoted to the Jazz's top spot in 1988.