Jerry Sloan Dead, Former Utah Jazz Coach & NBA Player Dies At 78
“Jerry Sloan will always be synonymous with the Utah Jazz. 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.”
Sloan coached the Jazz for 23 seasons and was by far the team’s most successful head coach ever. During his time in Utah, Sloan racked up 1,223 wins, 19 trips to the NBA Playoffs, and the only two NBA Finals appearances in the franchise’s history. The Jazz statement described Sloan as someone who “epitomized” the organization along with the two Hall of Famers he coached, John Stockton and Karl Malone.
The Miller family, who owns the Jazz, released a second statement paying tribute to the coaching legend.
“It was an honor and a privilege to have one of the greatest and most respected coaches in NBA history coaching our team. We have appreciated our relationship with Jerry and acknowledge his dedication to and passion for the Utah Jazz. He has left an enduring legacy with this franchise and our family. The far-reaching impact of his life has touched our city, state and the world as well as countless players, staff and fans. We pray his family will find solace and comfort in Jerry’s life.”
Sloan is survived by his wife, Tammy, and three children, Brian, Holly, and Kathy. He had been fighting Parkinson’s and Lewy body dementia since 2016.
Sloan Was A Star Player Before He Was A Legendary Coach
Rest easy, No. 4 ??
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) May 22, 2020
While Sloan is best known for his years in Utah, older NBA fans would remember the 10 seasons he spent as a player with the Chicago Bulls. Born on March 28, 1942, in McLeansboro, Illinois, Sloan would star at the University of Evansville before being drafted by the Baltimore Bullets fourth overall in the 1965 NBA draft.
After a single season, Sloan was traded to the expansion Chicago Bulls. Sloan was considered by the franchise to be “The Original Bull” and was the team’s star during its first decade in the NBA, per a statement from Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. Sloan was a two-time All-Star and a potent scorer for the era, averaging 18 points a game during the 1970-71 season along with three other seasons where he averaged more than 15 points a game. Following his retirement in 1976, the Bulls would make his number four the first that the franchise would retire and hire him as an assistant coach. In 1979, the Bulls gave Sloan his first head coaching opportunity. He would last just under three seasons as head coach before being let go by the team in 1982.
Sloan’s Jazz Tenure Made Him An Icon
Sloan joined the Utah Jazz as an assistant coach in 1985, eventually becoming the team’s head coach in 1988. Sloan would lead the Jazz on a long run of success, taking them to the playoffs in each of his first 16 seasons. Along with Stockton and Malone, Sloan utilized players including Jeff Hornacek, Antoine Carr, Tom Chambers, Mark Eaton, and Jeff Malone, making Utah a Western Conference powerhouse in the 90s. That team accumulated six division titles and nine 50-win seasons, making it to the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998. Sloan and the Jazz were denied a title on both occasions by his former team, the Chicago Bulls.
After losing Stockton to retirement and Malone to free agency in 2003, Sloan would go on to rebuild the Jazz with a young core of Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko, Mehmet Okur, and Deron Williams. That team would make it to the Western Conference Finals in 2007. Sloan would retire during the 2010-11 season. In his honor, the Jazz retired the number 1223, his total wins with the franchise.
Sloan retired with the third most wins in NBA history (1,221-803), the sixth-best winning percentage (.603) all-time for those with a minimum of 500 wins, two NBA Finals appearances, and seven division titles. Sloan ranks second on the NBA’s all-time list for consecutive games coached with one franchise, 1,809, and has the second-most wins with one team, 1,127. He is one of only seven coaches to win at least 50 games in 10 different seasons, and his 16 consecutive playoff appearances put him at fourth all-time among coaches. Sloan was the fifth coach in NBA history to win 1,000 games and was the first to win 1,000 with a single team.