By Joseph Phillips, Crusader Sports Writer
Former Chicago Bulls great and Utah Jazz legendary head coach Jerry Sloan passed away on Friday, May 22 due to complications from Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia at the age of 78.
According to the NBA league office, the Jazz issued a statement in honor of Sloan’s passing earlier that morning due to complications from Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia at the age of 78.
“Jerry Sloan will always be synonymous with the Utah Jazz,” said the Jazz organization via press release. “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.”
In 2009, Sloan was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, after he spent 23 seasons as the head coach of the Jazz from 1988 to 2011. Sloan finished his career as head coach of the Jazz with the third most wins in NBA history (1,221-803), sixth best winning percentage (.603) all-time (min. 500 wins), two NBA Finals appearances (1997 and 1998) and seven division titles.
Sloan also guided the Jazz to 16 consecutive winning seasons and thirteen 50-win seasons. Sloan’s teams made 20 trips to the NBA Playoffs (19 with Utah: 1989-2003, ’07-10), and his 98 playoff wins are the sixth most in NBA history.
“Our Hall of Fame coach for 23 years, Jerry had a tremendous impact on the Jazz franchise as expressed by his banner hanging in the arena rafters,” said the Jazz organization in its press release. “His 1,223 Jazz coaching wins, 20 trips to the NBA Playoffs and two NBA Finals appearances are remarkable achievements. His hard-nosed approach only made him more beloved. Even after his retirement, his presence at Jazz games always brought a roaring response from the crowd.
“Like Stockton and Malone as players, Jerry Sloan epitomized the organization. He will be greatly missed. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Tammy, the entire Sloan family and all who knew and loved him.”
With more than 45 years in the NBA as both a player and a coach, Sloan coached his former team the Chicago Bulls for three NBA seasons (1979-82) and was a two-time NBA All-Star as a player (1967, 1969) over 11 NBA seasons with both Chicago and Baltimore (1965-76).
Sloan became the first player in Bulls’ history to have his number retired when the franchise retired his No. 4 jersey on February 17, 1978. During his playing days with the Chicago Bulls, Sloan was known as a great on ball defender, as he would team up with back court running mate Norm Van Lier in the 70’s to help terrorize NBA guards.