Ah, late March. When winter gives its last gasp, the flowers begin to bloom, baseball season starts to ramp up, and the Jazz start coming apart at the seams.
The Jazz, after going on an absurd run throughout the first two months of the year, have returned to their home planet. After a thrilling, come-from-behind win against Phoenix on March 4th, the Jazz were riding high, nigh unstoppable. Now they’ve lost three of their last five, road losses to playoff teams. Understandable losses, but still games they need to be winning as April approaches. And what’s more, they’re coming unhinged a bit.
I submit for evidence exhibit A: Jerry Sloan shoving an official with his forearm with .02 seconds left and the Jazz down three possessions.
With .02 seconds left in the Jazz loss to the Suns last night, Ronnie Price went for a garbage time breakaway dunk (“The Shannon Brown Special”). Grant Hill fouled Price hard, and the Jazz took exception. Because, you know, Grant Hill has a reputation for being that kind of player.
The Salt Lake City Tribune’s Ross Siler has the details of what happened next. After the officials failed to call a flagrant foul on Price, they went to the replay to see how much time was left. Sloan, outraged, backed down a security guard… yes, the 67 year old coach backed down a security guard trying to talk at the officials. Then after the officials came out of the replay session, Sloan got into it with official Michael Smith. The result was Sloan shoving Smith his forearm, and, as you’d expect, getting sent to the showers.
Siler points out this is the third time since 93 the Jazz legendary coach has made physical contact with an official. I’m pretty sure you can expect Sloan to miss a few games for his impulse reaction.
Tough old bastard, that Sloan.
UPDATE: A commenter points out that the reason for Sloan’s outburst was Amar’e Stoudemire walking from the bench across court towards the Jazz bench after the play. Stoudemire said later he thought the game was over, according to Siler. Of course, Stoudemire does kind of have a history of walking on the floor off the bench at bad times.