SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – The Utah Jazz and fans are mourning the passing of former Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan who died early Friday morning at the age of 78.
Sloan was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia in 2016, his health has 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 Utah 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.
The Utah Jazz have issued the following statements:
“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.
“Our Hall of Fame coach for 23 years, Jerry had a tremendous impact on the Jazz franchise as expressed by his banner hanging in the arena rafters. His 1,223 Jazz coaching wins, 20 trips to the NBA Playoffs and two NBA Finals appearances are remarkable achievements. His hard-nosed approach only made him more beloved. Even after his retirement, his presence at Jazz games always brought a roaring response from the crowd.
“Like Stockton and Malone as players, Jerry Sloan epitomized the organization. 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.”
Statement from Utah Jazz Head Coach Quin Snyder:
“Before coming to Utah, I was certainly aware of Coach Sloan and what he meant to the NBA
and to the coaching world. But, upon living in Utah, I became acutely aware of just how
much he truly meant to the state. I was honored by the opportunity to follow in Coach Sloan’s giant footsteps, and subsequently humbled by the task of trying to uphold the standards and the success that are synonymous with his legacy.”
“The clear identity that he established for Jazz Basketball – unselfishness, toughness and
the essential importance of Team – has always left a palpable responsibility to strive for in
carrying forward. He will be missed and mourned by the Jazz family, the NBA and beyond.”
The Miller Family issued the following statement:
“It was an honor and a privilege to have one of the greatest and most respected coaches in NBA history coaching our team. We have appreciated our relationship with Jerry and acknowledge his dedication to and passion for the Utah Jazz. He has left an enduring legacy with this franchise and our family. The far-reaching impact of his life has touched our city, state and the world as well as countless players, staff and fans. We pray his family will find solace and comfort in Jerry’s life. The Miller family and Jazz organization will be proud to honor him with a permanent tribute.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver:
“Jerry Sloan was among the NBA’s most respected and admired legends. After an All-Star playing career in which his relentless style shaped the Chicago Bulls in their early years, he became on the all-time greatest head coaches during 23 seasons with the Utah Jazz–the second-longest tenure in league history. He was the first coach to win 1,000 games with the same organization, which came to embody the qualities that made Jerry a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer: persistence, discipline, drive, and selflessness.
His more than 40 years in the NBA also paralleled a period of tremendous growth in the league, a time when we benefited greatly from his humility, kindness, dignity and class. Our thoughts are with Jerry’s wife, Tammy, and their family, as well as his former’s players, colleagues and the Bulls and Jazz organizations.”
Jazz Nation reaction:
Video by ABC4 Photojournalist Michael Sanchez