The Influence Of Jerry Sloan

Eddie Jordan remembers early conversations with Jerry Sloan, the Utah Jazz's now-Hall Of Fame coach.

''I've always done that, always talked to other coaches,'' Jordan was saying as the 76ers prepared for Friday night's game against the Jazz. ''I was a young coach, and he was very enlightening. He helped me out a lot. We had a few beers--he had a few more than I did--and I learned a lot.

''We try and incorporate some of what they do. I don't know if I could be as tough and hard-nosed as he is, but that's his makeup.''

Sloan, 67, has been the Jazz head coach since 1988-89. He owns 1,139 victories, fourth-best on the NBA's all-time list.

While most league observers doubt that any coach will ever again have that sort of tenure with one team, Jordan smiles and says ''It's possible. It could be possible. They always say records are made to be broken.''

Part of Sloan's philosophy has to do with reminding his players that the season is a marathon, and that things are never as good or as difficult as they might seem. He mentioned that to Jazz reporters the other day.

''That's a favorite line people use all the time,'' he said. ''But that's the way life is. You sometimes think the world is going to cave in on you when things don't go your way. But you get tested on your cfharacter. You get to see what kind of character you have. Do you fight back? Or do you just fold your tent and get in to the fetal position and wait for someone to carry you around?

''(The players) have to learn how to overcome (early struggles). A lot of guys haven't had any problems to deal with; things are going pretty good for them. When (things go wrong) guys sometimes get thrown out of sync and they've got to fight through that. It's fun to see them do that, though. That's a positive thing. I think they feel better about themselves for having done that.''