Jerry Sloan, the coach who took the Utah Jazz to the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998 on his way to a spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame, died Friday. He was 78.
The Jazz said he died from complications related to Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia.
Sloan spent 23 seasons coaching the Jazz. The team -- with John Stockton and Karl Malone leading the way in many of those seasons -- finished below .500 in only one of those years. Sloan won 1,221 games in his career, the fourth-highest total in NBA history.
In a statement released by the NBA, commissioner Adam Silver said: "Jerry Sloan was among the NBA’s most respected and admired legends. After an All-Star playing career in which his relentless style shaped the Chicago Bulls in their early years, he became one of the all-time greatest head coaches during 23 seasons with the Utah Jazz – the second-longest tenure in league history.
"He was the first coach to win 1,000 games with the same organization, which came to embody the qualities that made Jerry a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer: persistence, discipline, drive and selflessness. His more than 40 years in the NBA also paralleled a period of tremendous growth in the league, a time when we benefited greatly from his humility, kindness, dignity and class. Our thoughts are with Jerry’s wife, Tammy, and their family, as well as his former players, colleagues and the Bulls and Jazz organizations.”
Remembering Jerry Sloan | 1942-2020
The Jazz, in their statement, said Sloan "epitomized the organization" and offered their condolences to he and his family.
“Jerry Sloan will always be synonymous with the Utah Jazz," the team said in a statement. "He will forever be a part of the Utah Jazz organization and we join his family, friends and fans in mourning his loss. We are so thankful for what he accomplished here in Utah and the decades of dedication, loyalty and tenacity he brought to our franchise."
Current Jazz coach Quin Snyder said he learned quickly about how important Sloan has been to the organization.
“Before coming to Utah, I was certainly aware of Coach Sloan and what he meant to the NBA and to the coaching world. But, upon living in Utah, I became acutely aware of just how much he truly meant to the state," Snyder said in a statement. “The clear identity that he established for Jazz basketball -- unselfishness, toughness and the essential importance of team -- has always left a palpable responsibility to strive for in carrying forward. He will be missed and mourned by the Jazz family, the NBA and beyond.”
Utah went to The Finals twice under Sloan, both times falling to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
Sloan was a former player of the Bulls from 1966-76 and his jersey hangs in the rafters of the United Center.
"Jerry Sloan was ‘The Original Bull' whose tenacious defense and nightly hustle on the court represented the franchise and epitomized the city of Chicago," Chicago Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in statement after Sloan's passing. "Jerry was the face of the Bulls organization from its inception through the mid-1970s, and very appropriately, his uniform No. 4 was the first jersey retired by the team. A great player and a Hall-of-Fame NBA coach, most importantly, Jerry was a great person. Our sympathies go out to the Sloan family and all his many fans."
Sloan entered the Hall of Fame in 2009.
Jerry Sloan delivers a speech on the values, style and competitive fire that made him a Hall of Fame coach.
“I’m not into numbers and stuff like that,” Sloan said when he passed Pat Riley for No. 3 on the NBA’s all-time win list in 2010; Gregg Popovich has since surpassed him for that spot. “I never have been. I’ve got a great organization to work for that’s given me an opportunity to stay there for a long time. I’m very thankful for that and the coaches that I have with me. It’s not about me.”
Popovich offered his condolences on Friday.
“It’s a sad day for all of us who knew Jerry Sloan," the Spurs coach said. "Not only on the basketball court but, more importantly, as a human being. He was genuine and true. And that is rare. He was a mentor for me from afar until I got to know him. A man who suffered no fools, he possessed a humor, often disguised, and had a heart as big as the prairie.”
He spent 34 years in the employ of the Jazz organization, either as head coach, assistant, scout or senior basketball adviser. Sloan started as a scout, was promoted as an assistant under Frank Layden in 1984 and became the sixth coach in franchise history on Dec. 9, 1988, after Layden resigned.
Sloan’s longevity with the Jazz was remarkable. During his time in Utah, there were 245 coaching changes around the league and five teams -- Charlotte, Memphis, Toronto, Orlando and Minnesota -- did not even exist when he took the helm with the Jazz.
''Like Stockton and Malone as players, Jerry Sloan epitomized the organization,'' the Jazz's team statement added. ''He will be greatly missed.''
When the season shut down on March 11 due to the coronavirus, the Knicks were in 12th place in the East and would only make the cut if the NBA decides on a play-in event that invites 24 teams, including 12 from each conference."
...play-in event that invites 24 teams?
That doesn't sound like the NBA championship to me. They should rename it to NBA Special Disney ESPN Invitationals.
i'm a little late to the party on this one but I just finished watching the 10 part documentary The Last Dance with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. One of the best sports documentaries I have personally ever seen.This is a must see. Watching MJ through his younger years in college and finally for the Bulls in Chicago. Watching this story for me burins many names to challenge the greatness of MJ. The 2 however who quickly come to mind are Kobe and LeBron.
To me MJ in 90's was the greatest basketball player and certainly in retrospect it can easily be said that MJ was the GOAT.To me there is no doubt he was the greatest. Watching that series it was evident that he turned around a failing Chicago franchise and very quickly had 2 three-peats and the final season was what this documentary was all about with so many back stories that it was a pleasure to watch.
Michael clearly competed to be the very best and losing was not a word in his vocabulary .
The closeness to his father was endearing to see and the scene of Michael sobbing on the floor after winning his first game back after he left the sport for baseball for 18 months and the first game without his father's presence was gut wrenching
He was such a superstar that he needed his own private security everywhere and how his head of security became such a father figure to Michael
I have always been a Lakers fan and living in SoCal I rarely saw any Eastern games and I only first came to know of Micheal's greatness when he and the Bulls trashed the Lakers in their first NBA championship win in 1991
Michael is shown always with a cigar in his mouth and I guess he got that from Vlad Divacs who was the Lakers center at the time
So having said that to me number 2 is Kobe. There were times in the documentary that Micheal's smile reminded me of Kobe who always had a smile on his face and who also was always there to compete and give it his best. Kobe was the face of Los Angeles and the NBA from 200-2019 when LeBron took over.
Both are highly competitive and exude greatness but where I see the difference is that Kobe was a team player (one team for his entire career)just like Michael whereas LeBron is a ring buyer by team hopping and now he is attempting to be the face of Los Angeles and the Lakers. To this day I give Lebron high grades for his athletic skills (just ask him and he will tell you) but as a team player he will never be what MJ and Kobe were.
BTW it was sad to see Kobe n that documentary as well as Jerry Sloan who died yesterday
I just finished watching the 10 part documentary The Last Dance with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. One of the best sports documentaries I have personally ever seen.This is a must see.
BTW it was sad to see Kobe n that documentary as well as Jerry Sloan who died yesterday
This is a must watch series. If you didn't believe that Mike was the GOAT, you will after you watch this documentary which for me was one of the best sports documentaries I have ever seen. There was so much of Michael in Kobe's smile and mannerisms as well as his strong desire to win. Michael was the face of the NBA in the 90's as well as the face of Chicago whereas Kobe was the face of the NBA from 2000-2010 but he was also the face of Los Angeles for 18 years. Lebron on the other hand is now the face of the NBA but IMO has been a carpet bagger with no other desire than winning a ring in whatever city provides him with the best opportunity.
So for me in 1,2,3 order for GOAT
They've been talking about that kind of playoff set up and I never thought it would be implemented. It's really getting weirder as the days go by. I read that Shaq is pro cancellation.
"I think we should scrap the season. Everybody go home, get healthy, come back next year. Just scrap the season. Just scrap it. To try and come back now and do a rush playoffs as a player? Any team that wins this year, there's an asterisk. They're not going to get the respect. What if a team that's not really in the mix of things all of a sudden wins with a new playoff format? Nobody is going to respect that. So, scrap it. Worry about the safety of the fans and the people. Come back next year.
Look, I understand how players are feeling. I really do. But any team that gets it done this year, there's going to be an asterisk on that championship."