Jerry Sloan, the Hall of Fame basketball coach, who spent most of his career coaching at Utah Jazz and was a former NBA player at the Chicago Bulls, died on Friday. He was 78 years old.
Sloan announced in 2016 that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia, a terrible combination of neurological disorders.
Sloan said he decided to disclose the diagnosis because the symptoms were visible. He also told the "Salt Lake Tribune" that he did not "want people to feel sorry for me".
Sloan was one of the greatest coaches in NBA history and is number 4 on the list of most winning coaches of all time, with 1,221 wins. Among coaches with at least 500 games trained, he is ninth with a winning percentage of 0.603.
"Jerry Sloan will always be synonymous with Utah Jazz," the team said in a statement. "He will be part of the Utah Jazz organization and we always join his family, friends and fans in mourning for his loss. We are very grateful for what he accomplished here in Utah and for the decades of dedication, loyalty and tenacity he has brought to the our franchise. "
The Miller family, owner of Jazz, said: "“ It was an honor and privilege to have one of the greatest and most respected coaches in NBA history training our team. We appreciate our relationship with Jerry and recognize his dedication and passion. For Utah Jazz.
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"He left a lasting legacy with this franchise and our family. The far-reaching impact of his life touched our city, state and world, as well as countless players, employees and fans. We pray that his family will find comfort and comfort. In life. Jerry family. The Miller family and the Jazz organization will be proud to honor him with a permanent tribute. "
He has spent 23 seasons in Utah, and San Antonio's Sloan and Gregg Popovich are the only coaches in NBA history to win 1,000 games with one team. In his 26 seasons – three at the Bulls – he has had only three seasons lost and only one season lost in the two more than decades in Utah.
At the end of the 2010-11 season, citing a lack of energy, Sloan resigned, despite belonging to Jazz and the front office trying to convince him to end the season.
Sloan guided Jazz to consecutive appearances in the playoffs and 13 seasons with at least 50 wins, including 64 wins in 1996-97 and 62 wins in 1997-98. Trained by Sloan and led on the court by Karl Malone and John Stockton, Jazz won the Western Conference title in both seasons, but lost to Chicago and Michael Jordan in the NBA finals each time.
Sloan was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009.
"Being inducted into the Naismith basketball hall of fame is an insurmountable achievement in my career," said Sloan at his induction ceremony. “Since my start in McLeansboro (Illinois), the basketball game has presented me with opportunities and life experiences that I never dreamed of. I was a young man – the youngest of 10 children – raised by my mother on a farm located 26 kilometers from the nearest town.
“My father died when I was 4 and older brothers and sisters had to help look after our family. They couldn't play basketball because they had to work. Fortunately for me, my family was instrumental in my decision to play and their support was unwavering. "
Born in McLeansboro in 1942, Sloan attended the first six years of elementary school at a one-room school and sometimes needed to walk or hitchhike in high school basketball training.
Jerry Sloan, basketball, 1942-2020 (Photo: Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY)
Sloan became a player from all states in high school and played college basketball in Evansville. The Baltimore Bullets called up Sloan in 1965 with the fourth overall choice and left him for Chicago the following season. At Bulls, Sloan was a small shooting guard – striker with a talent for defense. He averaged 14 points and 7.4 rebounds in his 11-year career, was an All-Star twice and named the first defense team four times.
After retiring in 1976, Sloan took over as head coach in his alma mater, but retired five days later. That season, Evansville's basketball team and coaching staff died in a plane crash.
"It comes to mind every morning that I go to work," Sloan told a reporter in 1997.
Sloan joined the Bulls as a Boy Scout and became a coach in 1979. He spent three seasons and was fired after 51 games of the 1981-82 season. He became a Jazz assistant in 1985 and became a coach in 1988, replacing Frank Layden.
Stockton was in his fifth season and Malone in his fourth. Under Sloan, Stockton and Malone transformed Jazz into an annual playoff team.
“He demanded a lot. He expected a lot. He held everyone accountable, ”Malone told reporters in 2014.“ I grew up the old school way with my grandmother and mother. You hold that person responsible. You tell that person when you're screwing up and tell the person what they need to do. That's how the coach was with me. Right away, I knew I was dealing with a real person.
Sloan, who used to eat his dinner before departure in the media dining room with reporters, loved defense, but had two offensive weapons in Stockton and Malone. They became a formidable 1-2 punch and perfected pick-and-roll. Malone is the second highest scorer in the NBA, and Stockton is number 1 in assists of all time – with 3,715 more than Jason Kidd in number 2.
"He was a genius," Stockton told reporters. “You had to motivate the guys without burying them. You had to credit them without going crazy.
Sloan was a clueless trainer who never strayed from the values of hard work, dedication and loyalty of his Midwestern farmer. Outside the game, Sloan loved wearing John Deere hats and collected antique tractors, furniture, old cash registers and pottery.
"What you see is what you get," said Malone. “This guy has never changed in all these years with me. … he never demanded respect. He won for who he was as a person and for the way he treated you as a player. "
When Sloan retired, then NBA commissioner David Stern issued a statement.
"Few people have summarized all the positive aspects of team sports more than Jerry Sloan," the statement said. "A basketball player, Jerry was as relentless in his will to win on the Utah Jazz side as he was a Chicago Bulls All-Star guard. In more than two decades as a coach, he taught his players that there was nothing more important than the team. His most impressive qualities were his leadership and his extraordinary ability to encourage his players to subdue their individual games for the benefit of everyone. "
In 2017, at a 1996-97 team meeting, Sloan said, "I have been fortunate to stay as long as I have. This organization has been more than fair to me and my family."
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