SALT LAKE CITY -- His players slinked out of practice, and Jerry Sloan was disgusted.
The Utah Jazz coach on Wednesday called his team "complacent" and "lazy," saying "all but three or four of them are out of game shape already."
With the Chicago Bulls and the Indiana Pacers still slugging it out in the Eastern Conference, the Jazz are trying to maintain a game focus for 10 days until the start of the NBA Finals.
"I don't think the effort was even close to where I expected it," Sloan said.
Sloan's outburst was the first sign that the Jazz may be losing their edge just three days into the longest wait between games in franchise history.
"It's sad when you've only got three or four guys who could play a full game after going this long in the season," Sloan said. "I can't get one full practice out of everybody. I don't know why we can't ... get up and down the floor. There were guys about ready to die out here."
It's difficult to believe that the no-nonsense Jazz lost all of their conditioning at their Memorial Day barbecues, but Sloan never misses an opportunity to fire a motivational shot at his players. After all, something has to keep them occupied for the next week.
The Jazz held an extended film session in the morning, but Sloan was peeved when he tried to play a simulated four-quarter game during practice. He said most of the Jazz begged off after only 2 1/2 quarters.
"When you get tired after two or three quarters, I don't know how to simulate a game or keep us ready," Sloan said. "Maybe we could ride around town in a convertible. That'd be nice."
Sloan has been involved in basketball his entire adult life. And it infuriates him when others, particularly young players, don't take the game as seriously as he does.
"I'm excited to have an opportunity to play at this level," Sloan said. "It's really embarrassing that you even have to talk about this."
The Jazz won't know the identity of their opponent until Friday night at the earliest. Game 1 of the finals is June 3 at the Delta Center.
The layoff prevents Sloan from tailoring his practices toward a specific opponent, something he admits is troubling -- but not nearly as troubling as this fitness issue.
"I haven't watched any of the (Eastern Conference) games," Sloan said. "We just have to wait and see. We've done some of our homework to get ready for both teams."
Sloan also doesn't believe the extended down time will benefit his team, even though his three stars -- Karl Malone, John Stockton and Jeff Hornacek -- will be able to rest injuries.
"If you're playing, I don't see where this (time off) could be an edge," Sloan said. "You take two or three days off, and you see it's very difficult to keep your body in the kind of condition you like."
Sloan has been at his job longer than any NBA coach. During the break, one of his colleagues -- George Karl of Seattle -- was dismissed.
"I hate to see any coach lose his job," Sloan said. "So many teams go backwards instead of forwards when they fire a coach because the players have to evolve with the new coach, and that takes a while to happen. It's tough to know what owners are thinking about sometimes."
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