By A.Sherrod Blakely
BOSTON The news of Jerry Sloan's unexpected retirement caught everyone by surprise . . . including Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
Sloan held a press conference Thursday afternoon announcing his retirement after 23 seasons as an NBA head coach - all with the Utah Jazz.
"It caught us all off guard; it caught me off guard," said Rivers. "He's been there like this rock; and now the rock is gone. It's like your franchise moved or something. It's just strange."
Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who has competed against Sloan both as a player and as a coach, regrets that his long-time adversary will leave the game without having a title despite producing teams that were routinely among the NBA's best.
"You hate to see a guy go out without having won a championship after all the great teams he's had," Jackson said.
Sloan ranks third all-time in wins (1,221), trailing Don Nelson (1,335) and Lenny Wilkins (1,332).
He is also the only coach in league history to win 1,000 or more games with one team.
And when you talk of consistency, few can marvel what Sloan has done with the Jazz.
He is one of just three coaches in NBA history to have 15 or more consecutive winning seasons, joining Pat Riley and Jackson, each with 19.