Former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan has died of complications from Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia, the team announced Friday morning. He was 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,” the team said in a statement. “We are so thankful for what he accomplished here in Utah and the decades of dedication, loyalty and tenacity he brought to our franchise.”
The Hall of Famer coached for 26 years in the NBA, spending 23 of those seasons in Utah. He guided the Jazz to 15 consecutive playoff appearances from 1988 to 2003, and he ranks fourth on the career wins list behind Don Nelson, Lenny Wilkens and Gregg Popovich. Sloan and Popovich are the only coaches in league history to win at least 1,000 games with one team.
Sloan’s style and intensity matched up perfectly with John Stockton and Karl Malone, allowing the Jazz to consistently churn out victories and remain contenders in the rugged Western Conference. Utah advanced to the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998, losing to Michael Jordan and the Bulls in both series.
“Like Stockton and Malone as players, Jerry Sloan epitomized the organization,” the team said. “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.”
Before becoming a coach, Sloan had a terrific playing career from 1965 to 1976. As a member of the Bulls, he made two All-Star teams and was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team four times.
“Jerry Sloan was ‘The Original Bull’ whose tenacious defense and nightly hustle on the court represented the franchise and epitomized the city of Chicago,” Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement on Sloan’s passing. “Jerry was the face of the Bulls organization from its inception through the mid-1970s, and very appropriately, his uniform No. 4 was the first jersey retired by the team.
“A great player and a Hall-of-Fame NBA coach, most importantly, Jerry was a great person. Our sympathies go out to the Sloan family and all his many fans.”
Players around the league reacted to Sloan’s death, including former Jazz star Deron Williams.
R.I.P Jerry Sloan 🙏🏽
— Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) May 22, 2020
Thank you for the opportunities, thank you for the lessons, thank you for help mold me into a great basketball player and man. I will always bring my “lunch pail” to work! RIP Coach Sloan 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/GPICXmG7N6
— Paul Millsap (@Paulmillsap4) May 22, 2020
Prayers are with Jerry Sloan’s family today. The game lost a legend 🙏🏾
— Chris Paul (@CP3) May 22, 2020
Rip Jerry Sloan 🙏🏾🙏🏾
— Rudy Gay (@RudyGay) May 22, 2020