Sloan and Pollin, A Long-Delayed Reunion

Fresh from being denied career coaching win No. 1,002, Utah Jazz Coach Jerry Sloan was prepared to give his two-millionth postgame interview on Wednesday night when someone from his distant past came down the hallway at Verizon Center in a wheelchair. It was Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin, who stopped for a brief, albeit long overdue, chat.

Pollin was obviously in a good mood after his team finally won its first game of the season, beating Utah 95-87 after an 0-5 start.

"You're the guy I drafted here," the 84-year old Pollin told Sloan, whom the Baltimore Bullets drafted not once, but twice.

The Bullets snagged Sloan in the third round out of the University of Evansville in 1964, but he elected to stay in college another year. They drafted the hard-nosed Sloan the following year with the sixth overall pick. Sloan rarely played as a rookie in his lone season with the Bullets, but he went on to become the first player selected by the Bulls in the expansion draft in 1966, thus earning the nickname, "The Original Bull."

"I made a mistake and let you go," Pollin told Sloan, who made two all-star appearances and six NBA all-defensive teams with the Bulls.

"I had a fun time while I was here," Sloan told Pollin. "How you doing? Doing good?"

"Unfortunately, I have a serious illness that put me in a wheelchair," said Pollin, who is suffering from progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare degenerative disease of the brain that impairs movements and balance. "But I'm going to get better."

"I know. You're a tough guy," Sloan said.

"Not as tough as you," Pollin said with a chuckle, before he was wheeled away.

I asked Sloan afterward if he talked to Pollin much since his left town more than 40 years ago.

"First time," Sloan said.


"Well, we may have run into each other once before," Sloan said. "I didn't know who he was at first. Obviously, he looked a lot different back then."

Since the Bullets left Baltimore for Washington, the franchise changed names from Bullets to Wizards, the team now plays in a downtown arena that Pollin built, and Sloan established himself as a Hall of Fame-caliber coach, I suppose a lot can change in 42 years.

By Michael Lee |  November 13, 2008; 8:34 AM ET
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"I made a mistake and let you go," Pollin told Sloan, who made two all-star appearances and six NBA all-defensive teams with the Bulls."

Gosh, where have we heard/experienced this before?

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 13, 2008 9:17 AM

Go home, GHE (Glass Half Empty, my new nickname for you). You can't even enjoy a touching story like this without taking a shot. How sad.

Posted by: keithward64 | November 13, 2008 9:33 AM

feel good story. nice win last night. as myself and others have stated, the general formula for wins will be clutch performances from the 2 all-stars, someone protecting the rim and key minutes from the other 3 and the bench. seems like we have a weapon in mcgee

Posted by: gregskins | November 13, 2008 9:55 AM

Take cheap shots at a sick, 84 year old man who has given his heart and soul to the team and the city.

You're a class act, GHE.

Posted by: bryc3 | November 13, 2008 9:56 AM

Jerry Sloan has been how many years with the Jazz? Obviously ownership likes him. Some teams have taken on the character of their owners, some have the coach's stamp. The Jazz are Jerry Sloan it seems, regardless of who the players have been over the years. It helps that they are usually a playoff caliber team.

I don't know what it's like in SLC, don't know how their fans look at the team, but I expect they have loyalty and admiration for this guy.

And to the Wiz, great effort guys! I hope you can keep it up.

Posted by: rickgonz | November 13, 2008 10:23 AM

Gosh, where have we heard/experienced this before?
Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 13, 2008 9:17 AM

let's see... Rip Hamilton, Larry Hughes, big Ben, 'Sheed, Roger Mason, Webber, Earl the Pearl (i hear his jersey is buried under the phone booth), apparently Jerry Sloan, Juwan Howard, oh and we fired someone named Michael Jordan. we did draft Kwame and Pecherov tho, so thats good. lmfao

Posted by: prescrunk | November 13, 2008 10:29 AM

duh...Time to ship the other Jordan out of town..the Princeton offense is not working..just imagine Arenas running pick and roll with McGee and Sloan coaching the Wiz. The kid can dunk and has a nice outside shot. All McGee needs is a better coach.

Posted by: jercha | November 13, 2008 10:39 AM

I dont think Sloan want to talk about his time with Bullets cause when Pollin asked him, he answer quickly and change subject to askin pollin, "how r udoin" lol

Posted by: forbid | November 13, 2008 11:02 AM

fire EJ so our 7 foot rookie can work on his outside shot?? you're an idiot.

Posted by: prescrunk | November 13, 2008 11:02 AM

"oh and we fired someone named Michael Jordan"

Funny you should mention that ...

Nice to see him working the same kind of managerial magic in Charlotte he used to turn the Wiz into a playoff caliber team.

Oh, wait ...

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 13, 2008 11:47 AM

lmao, okay okay, but we didn't exactly dominate after MJ left... is Abe not guilty of ensnaring us in mediocrity also?

Posted by: prescrunk | November 13, 2008 12:02 PM

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