In a year of unprecedented loss for the whole NBA, Utah Jazz coaching legend Jerry Sloan has passed away after a battle with Parkinson’s disease.
It’s been a calendar year of unprecedented loss for the entire NBA, and we aren’t even halfway through it yet. Former commissioner David Stern and Kobe Bryant both passed away earlier this year, and Friday morning the Utah Jazz announced that former legendary head coach Jerry Sloan had passed away.
Sloan had battled Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia since 2015, and he leaves behind his wife Tammy and four children.
As a head coach with the Utah Jazz, Jerry Sloan was in a tier of his own. He is responsible for almost two-thirds of the wins in the Jazz’s 45-year history as a franchise. As head coach of the Jazz from 1988 through 2011, he had 1,809 wins. In the surrounding years, the Jazz have won just 1,166 games.
He presided over the best years of Jazz basketball with multiple NBA Finals runs, coaching Hall of Famers like John Stockton and Karl Malone, and he led the team to 17 straight playoff appearances.
Sloan also had a sterling NBA playing career. He was drafted by the Washington Bullets in 1965, but had his greatest successes as a player with the Chicago Bulls. He was a two-time All-Star, and in keeping with the defensive principles displayed by his Jazz teams, he had four First Team All-Defense appearances and two Second-Team All-Defense showings.
Jerry Sloan was the first player in a long line of luminaries to have his jersey retired by the Bulls in 1978.
He was of a specific type as a head coach, a hard-nosed and tough leader whose players would charge through a brick wall for. In the age of player empowerment, that breed has faded over time as a relic of the past, but nobody can ever argue against Jerry Sloan’s great success.
He will be forever remembered and missed.