Legendary former Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan died Friday thanks to complications from Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia at age 78, consistent with a press release posted on the Jazz’s website.
Sloan coached the Jazz for 23 years, leading his team to the playoffs 19 times including 15 years during a row over the ultimate a part of his tenure. Over that timeframe, the Jazz were 1,127-682. The team reached the NBA Finals in back-to-back years in 1997 and 1998, losing both times to Michael Jordan and therefore the Chicago Bulls.
Sloan is fourth on the NBA’s all-time wins list behind Gregg Popovich, Lenny Wilkens and Don Nelson. He retired in 2011.
The statement from the Jazz said, “Jerry Sloan will always be synonymous with the Utah Jazz. He will forever be a neighborhood of the Utah Jazz organization and that we join his family, friends and fans in mourning his loss. We are so thankful for what he accomplished here in Utah and therefore the decades of dedication, loyalty and tenacity he delivered to our franchise.”
1. Sloan Married His highschool Sweetheart
Sloan was born on March 28, 1942, in McLeansboro, Illinois. The youngest of 10 children, Sloan married his highschool sweetheart, Bobbye, in 1963. The couple had three children together, one son, Brian, and two daughters, Kathy and Holly.
Bobbye died in 2004 after two separate battles against cancer. She was diagnosed with carcinoma in 1997 and died from carcinoma in 2004 after 41 years of marriage.
In 2006, Sloan married Tammy Jessop, consistent with the Deseret News.
2. Sloan Led His Team to 2 National Titles in College as a Player
Sloan was a superb college basketeer . In 1964 and 1965, he led the University of Evansville Aces to 2 straight national championships within the NCAA College Division (now called Division II).
During both those NCAA College Division Basketball Tournament runs, Sloan was named the foremost Outstanding Player within the tournament.
Moreover, the 1965 team Sloan led went undefeated for the whole year at 29-0.
3. Sloan Was ‘The Original Bull’ in Chicago
Before Michael Jordan’s name was synonymous with the Chicago Bulls, Sloan’s name was the one most of the people thought of whenever the subject of the Bulls came up.
Sloan was a two-time NBA All-Star and six-time All-Defensive selection during his playing career, which lasted from 1965 through 1976. He was originally drafted by the Baltimore Bullets but played just one year there before spending the remainder of his stalwart career with the Bulls.
Sloan was referred to as a hard-nosed defender who averaged 14.0 points, 7.4 rebounds and a couple of .5 assists per game. In 1978, he became the primary Bulls player to possess his jersey retired, and his No. 4 jersey still hangs from the rafters in Chicago today.
Those impressive achievements earned Sloan the title of “The Original Bull.”
4. Sloan Spent 34 Years With the Jazz
Sloan started his coaching career with the Bulls but went 94-121 in Chicago and didn’t find his groove coaching until he was hired by the Jazz.
In total, Sloan worked for the Jazz organization for 34 years as either head coach, assistant, scout or senior basketball adviser. Sloan started with the Jazz during the 1983-84 season as a scout. He became an assistant to go coach Frank Layden on Nov. 19, 1984, and was named the sixth head coach in franchise history four years later after Layden resigned.
By then end of his time in Utah, “The Original Bull” became synonymous with the Jazz, becoming the team’s winningest coach in terms of both total wins (1,127) and winning percentage (.623). Additionally, Sloan is that the longest-tenured coach in franchise history.
5. Sloan’s Elite Coaching Credentials Won’t Soon Be Equaled
Sloan’s impressive coaching resume won’t soon be equaled. When he retired almost a decade ago, Sloan was among the very elite in terms of NBA coaching accomplishments which remains an equivalent today.
Sloan was the primary NBA coach to win 1,000 games with one team. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.
A banner together with his name thereon hangs at the house of the Jazz, Vivint Smart Home arena, next to 5 of his former players whose numbers are retired: Mark Eaton (53), Darrell Griffith (35), Jeff Hornacek (14), Karl Malone (32) and John Stockton (12).
Per the Jazz’s statement, “Like Stockton and Malone as players, Jerry Sloan epitomized the organization. He are going to be greatly missed.”