Jerry Sloan was one of the winningest head coaches in NBA history. He coached the Utah Jazz for 23 seasons, from 1988 to 2011 with a roster including future hall-of-famers John Stockton and Karl Malone. His impressive record as a coach included 15 consecutive playoff appearances, highlighted by consecutive NBA Finals against the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls.
- Died: Friday, May 22, 2020 (Who else died on May 22?)
- Details of death: Died at his home in Salt Lake City of complications from Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia at the age of 78.
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Sloan made his NBA debut as a player for the Baltimore Bullets. He was drafted by the expansion Chicago Bulls in 1966 and earned the nickname “The Original Bull.” He was known for his gritty defense until his retirement in 1976. The Bulls retired his no. 4 jersey in 1978—the first in franchise history.
Sloan’s first job as a head coach was also with the Bulls, but his tenure was short lived. He found a permanent home when Utah hired him in 1988. There his fiery demeanor forged a winning tradition in Salt Lake City. In 2014 the Jazz raised a banner retiring his “jersey” with the number 1223, representing his total number of regular season and playoff victories.
He was elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in the same class as his longtime Utah Jazz point guard John Stockton.
What he said was the most important thing in sports:
“These guys have been criticized the last few years for not getting to where we’re going, but I’ve always said that the most important thing in sports is to keep trying. Let this be an example of what it means to say it’s never over,” he said after defeating the Houston Rockets in the 1997 Western Conference Finals.
What they said about him
Full obituary: The Salt Lake Tribune