Celtics coach Doc Rivers may have been 2,000 miles away from the drama unfolding in Salt Lake City on Thursday, but he felt a strange connection to the shocking resignation announced earlier that day by Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan.
In a way, he almost predicted it.
"[Wednesday] I did an interview, and we were talking about Jerry Sloan of all people," Rivers said Thursday before his Celtics took on the Lakers. "They asked me how long did I think he was going to coach. I said I had no idea. That's the greatness of Jerry — he'll wake up one day and say, 'I'm out.'
"I just had no idea it would be today. It's eerie."
Sloan was the longest-tenured head coach in American professional sports — he was toward the end of his 23rd season leading the Jazz. His exit came as a surprise to his peers in the NBA.
"I'm too shocked to have a reaction," Rivers said. "It caught me off guard. It caught us all off guard. It's a sad day, to me, for the league. He's been such a stable guy in the league — he's been there, like this rock, and all of a sudden the rock is gone. It's like your franchise moved or something. I don't know, it's just strange.
"He's a great coach. He brought stability to that franchise, and now that he's gone, you just don't know what to expect."
Sloan won 1,127 games at the helm in Utah, reaching the postseason 19 times and the NBA Finals twice. He never won a championship, nor a Coach of the Year award, but his constant presence as one of the West's premier coaches earned his peers' respect.
His distinctive style won't be forgotten in today's NBA for a long, long time.
"It was always the same thing," Rivers said. "They're going to play hard, they're going to cut, they're going to pick, no ball-watching. They're going to pick and roll you, they're going to foul you hard. And you're going to have to play defense for 24 seconds. You knew when you played them, they were going to milk that possession until they got the shot they wanted. They were a tough team to play."