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Jerry Sloan is taking over the NBA. Or at least, his sense of fashion is.
In an effort to clean up its image, the league intends to crack down on on-court misbehavior this season, primarily the harassment of referees. But another detail the NBA apparently wants to police could come straight from Sloan's throat, a couple dozen times a season: Hey, tuck in your shirt.
During Washington's loss to Toronto on Monday, referees warned the Wizards' bench after Gilbert Arenas checked into the game with his shirttail flapping. And when forward Caron Butler later entered the game similarly untucked, a technical foul was called.
No, Sloan wasn't refereeing the game.
"I don't think we'll ever get called for that technical on this team," laughed forward Matt Harpring, who learned four years ago to check his jersey before stepping onto the Delta Center floor. "Jerry won't put you into the game if your shirt isn't tucked."
Actually, the longtime coach said, that particular peeve came from his predecessor, Frank Layden, but it's one he believes in. "It's not really my cause. I just think we should look like a team out there, like professionals," Sloan said. "It's a league rule, and we try to abide by it. It's not a big deal, but I think you should show a little respect to the game."
And now, Jazz players can't roll their eyes at Sloan's relentless attention to detail. See, he's trying to keep his players out of trouble.
Jarron Collins has seen Sloan stop practice to have players tuck their jerseys in, and he's been loudly reminded from across the court whenever his shirt gets yanked out during play. "That's not going to be a problem for us," he said. "It's good, though. They want to put the most appealing entertainment vehicle out there, we understand that."
Deron Williams doesn't like it when opposing players beat him off the dribble and get to the basket for a layup, but he doesn't feel any need to even the score right away.
Lakers guard Smush Parker burned Williams on a nice crossover during Tuesday's preseason game in Fresno, and the Jazz guard just happened to respond by grabbing the inbounds pass, hustling full-speed to the other end, driving into the lane and pulling up for a soft 10-footer.
Williams initially denied any special motivation for the shot - "I happened to be open," he claimed - but his story changed as he told it.
"I don't like people scoring on me. He got to the hole a couple of times, and that's something I've got to work on," Williams admitted.
Told that John Stockton had the same habit, a well-take-that instinct, Williams finally admitted his competitive instincts get pretty strong in that situation.
"It's a little personal when something like that happens," Williams said with a smile. "Yeah, I wanted to push back at him. I got a nice shot on him, too."
He also had 16 points and five assists to Parker's 13 and two, though Parker's team pulled away for the victory.
Rookies Ronnie Brewer and Paul Millsap said their nerves were cranked up to extra-loud during their first preseason action, but both settled down quickly.
"I made a couple of good passes, tried to play defense. I tried to get in there and rebound a little," said Brewer, who finished with two points and two boards. "It was an OK start, but I need to do better."
"For one thing, it was fun. It was fun being out there and playing," added Millsap, who contributed four points and five rebounds.
Sloan liked what he saw of them, too. "The great thing about them is they don't need the ball to play," the coach said. "They don't just want to score. They try to do other things."
The Jazz's annual public scrimmage is tonight at 7 p.m. in the Delta Center. Doors open at 6:15, and admission is free.