SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Utah Jazz Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan passed away Friday at the age of 78, the Utah Jazz announced.
“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,” the Utah Jazz stated.
Sloan was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia in 2016, and his health had been in steady decline the last few years, and needed 24-hour care in his final days.
Sloan took over as head coach of the Jazz 17 games into the 1988-89 season when Frank Layden stepped down, and remained at the helm until midway through the 2010-11 season, when he abruptly retired.
He went on to win 1,221 games, the fourth most in NBA history. Sloan was the first NBA coach to win 1,000 games with the same team.
Sloan was never able to capture that elusive NBA title, leading Utah to back-to-back NBA Finals appearances in 1997 and 1998, but the Jazz lost both times to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in six games.
The Jazz made the NBA Playoffs in Sloan’s first 15 seasons at the helm from 1989-2003, and went on to making the postseason 19 times in all, winning 98 playoff games. However, Sloan was never voted the NBA Coach of the Year.
With the tenacity and grit legends are made of, Sloan led the Jazz to six division titles and ten seasons of at least 50 victories. He was elected into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, joining his two Hall of Fame players, John Stockton and Karl Malone.
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One of the toughest players around back in his day, Sloan made two All-Star Games and was a six-time All-Defensive selection for the Bulls in the 1960s and 1970s. After retiring from playing in 1976, the team subsequently retired his No. 4, making him the first player in franchise history to have his jersey raised to the rafters.
His coaching career ended on February 7, 2011, when after a loss to the Chicago Bulls, Sloan suddenly retired. Sloan downplayed an argument he had with all-star guard Deron Williams in his final game. He later became a consultant for the team.