Former Supersonics, Nuggets Coach George Karl Wanted His Teams To Be Like Sloan’s Jazz Teams

May 24, 2020, 8:11 PM

Photos courtesy of Getty Images...

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Longtime NBA head coach George Karl always wanted his teams to play like the Utah Jazz did under Jerry Sloan.

Karl caught up with KSL Sports’ Sam Farnsworth after the passing of Sloan on Friday morning due to Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia.

The longtime NBA head coach Karl was trying to build his teams like Sloan and the Jazz.

“The Sloan, (John) Stockton, (Karl) Malone versus Karl, (Gary) Payton and (Shawn) Kemp is something that I am always going to remember,” Karl said. “Because we grew up almost trying to copy the success of the Utah Jazz.”

Karl had six stops in the NBA including time with the Cleveland Cavaliers from 1984-86, Seattle Supersonics from 1992-98, Milwaukee Bucks from 1998-03, Denver Nuggets from 2005-13 and Sacramento Kings from 2015-16.

Playoff Battles

Karl met Sloan in the Jazz many times in the NBA playoffs with both the Supersonics and the Nuggets. They met three times throughout their careers in the postseason. The first time was in the first round of the 1993 postseason when the Sonics beat the Jazz in five games. The second time was in the 1996 Western Conference Finals where Seattle pulled out the series in Game 7 at home.

“We were up 3-1 and we thought we had the series won,” Karl recalled. “They came back and won a tough game in Seattle and blew us out in Salt Lake City. We won a really close game in Game 7.”

Finally, the two met in the first round of the 2010 NBA Playoffs when the Jazz beat the Denver Nuggets in six games.

“He believes in physical and aggressive play,” Karl said. “He was a no nonsense kind of guy that doesn’t want to hear about individuality, it’s a team game, is demanding at the defensive end of the court and very clever and smart. Smart is not talked about by NBA fans and media. But having an intelligent basketball team was the forte of a Jerry Sloan basketball team.”

Division Rivals With Denver

As division rivals, Karl and the Nuggets would face Sloan and the Jazz at least four times during the regular season and they even met once in the postseason. Back then, Karl had Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson who would create great matchups and make for great games among the rocky mountain teams.

“The thing we always respected was how well they were coached,” Karl said. “They could change their personality. We only had one personality and that was to play fast. But, if you went to Utah and wanted to play fast, they would play fast with you.”

Karl knew that Sloan was known for his defense but admired his offense.

“He (Jerry Sloan) was a masterful coach of offense,” Karl mentioned. “I know he was known for his defense but his versatility and creativity offensively was well admired by most coaches in the NBA.”

Farnsworth asked Karl what was Sloan’s defining legacy as a head coach.

“I think in 23 years and sustaining excellence in one city, he and (Gregg) Popovich are the only guys that I can remember that last that long in one city. To stay with one franchise and one organization shows the character of both the organization and also the head coach. Also, his loyalty to the game and to the profession of coaching.”

For more on the life and legacy of former Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan visit kslsports.com/jerrysloan.

  • Utah Jazz Scoreboard

  • Utah Jazz Team Leaders

  • Utah Jazz Standings

Utah Jazz Coach Jerry Sloan


Ben Anderson

Sloan Fights Rasheed Wallace 23 Years Ago Today

On May 23, 1999, Jerry Sloan and Trail Blazers star Rasheed Wallace nearly came to blows in the NBA Playoffs.

2 years ago

Jerry Sloan - Utah Jazz...

Ben Anderson

Sloan Named One Of NBA 15 All-Time Greatest Coaches

Former Utah Jazz legend and basketball Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan was named one of the 15 greatest coaches in NBA history on Tuesday. 

2 years ago

Bojan Bogdanovic - Utah Jazz - Los Angeles Clippers - Game 1...

Kyle Ireland, KSL Sports

Jazz Forward Bojan Bogdanovic Turns Steal Into Three-Pointer Against Clippers

Bogdanovic turned a steal into a three-pointer during the first half of Utah's playoff game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

3 years ago

Best Utah Sports Moments 2020...

Madisan Hinkhouse, KSL Sports

Bracket: Best Utah Sports Moments Of 2020 Powered By KSL Sports

Join KSL Sports in looking back at some of the best moments sports provided our community in 2020 and then vote for your favorites.

3 years ago

Jerry Sloan...

Trevor Allen, KSL Sports

Jerry Sloan’s Daughter Finds Old Chicago Bulls Warmups

One of Jerry Sloan's daughters found a old warmup suit from Sloan's playing days with the Chicago Bulls.

4 years ago

Thurl Bailey - Jerry Sloan - Utah Jazz...

Kyle Ireland, KSL Sports

Former Utah Jazz Forward Thurl Bailey Says His Former Coach Jerry Sloan ‘Was The Real Deal’

Big T said that his former NBA head coach Jerry Sloan "was the real deal."

4 years ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @kslsports...

KSL Give-A-Thon

The KSL Sports Zone, KSL 5 TV, FM100.3, 103.5 The Arrow, and KSL NewsRadio have teamed up to raise money for the kids being served by Primary Children’s Care!


KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.


KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

Follow @kslsports...

The Road Home Mediathon 2023

The KSL Sports Zone and KSLSports.com are proud to support the all-day Mediathon 2023 at the Road Home, an annual tradition to raise money and other essential items for the Road Home, a Homeless Shelter.

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.

Former Supersonics, Nuggets Coach George Karl Wanted His Teams To Be Like Sloan’s Jazz Teams