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Former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan has died

May 22, 2020, 8:38 AM | Updated: 10:15 am
Jerry Sloan death...
10 Jun 1997: Coach Jerry Sloan of the Utah Jazz speaks to reporters during a press conference before a playoff game against the Chicago Bulls at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo: Getty Images

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz announced on Friday that former head coach Jerry Sloan has died. He was 78.

Remembering Jerry Sloan

In a release, the Jazz said Sloan passed away on Friday morning due to complications from Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia.

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. 

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. 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.

-Utah Jazz

RELATED: Utah Jazz legend Jerry Sloan passes away at age 78

Sloan spent 23 seasons from 1988-2011 as the head coach of the Jazz and finished his career with the third-most wins in NBA History. He also holds the second-place spot on the NBA’s all-time list for most consecutive games coached with one franchise (1,809)

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. The Miller family and Jazz organization will be proud to honor him with a permanent tribute.

-The Miller Family

Jerry Sloan: a storied career

Sloan began his basketball career as a player. He was drafted 4th overall in 1965 by the Baltimore Bullets, then traded a year later to the expansion Chicago Bulls. KSL Sports reports he became known as the “Original Bull” because of his toughness on defense. The team eventually retired his #4 jersey. 

Sloan came to Utah in 1984 to serve as assistant to Coach Frank Layden. Then, when Layden resigned mid-season in 1988, Sloan moved into the head coach position, where he stayed until 2011. 

Sloan was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, the sport’s highest honor, in 2009. The Jazz honored him again in 2014 with a banner in the arena where he coached with the number 1223, representing his number of wins as head coach. 

Utah reacts

The news of Sloan’s death left a big impact on the Utah community, with over 40 thousand tweets trending by 10 a.m. Friday. 

Former Jazz player Mark Eaton joined Doug Wright on KSL NewsRadio to remember the legacy of Coach Sloan, where he said he feels mixed emotions. 

“I’m grateful that he’s moved on and he’s free of a terrible disease,” Eaton said. “That just robbed him from the better part of his life.”

But, Eaton said, the hardest part is knowing Sloan is gone “way too soon” — after leaving a legacy on several Utahns. 

“I miss him greatly,” Eaton said. “He’s had just a great impact on my life.”

Eaton said what most players will remember about Sloan what his integrity and dedication to do things “the right way.” His consistent beliefs kept a balance in the team chemistry, becoming the anchor of the community. 

“That to me is the defining part of his character,” Eaton said. 

Gov. Gary Herbert also responded to the news early Friday, calling Sloan the “heart and soul” of the Utah Jazz team. 

“His emphasis on defense and team play got the most raw talent out of the players,” Herbert said in a statement. “He was ‘old school’ and will be greatly missed. Our prayers are with Jerry Sloan’s family and friends as they mourn his passing.”

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Former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan has died