SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Former Utah Jazz Head Coach Jerry Sloan, who passed away Friday at the age of 78, was one of the most popular and beloved figures ever in Utah. Some Jazz fans stopped by Vivint SmartHome Arena Friday afternoon to pay their respects and share their memories of the legendary coach.
One was Clint Peterson, whose Jazz logo tattoo on his left arm proves he’s a fan for life.
“Jerry Sloan embodied what a Jazz fan expects from a Jazzman: hard work, toughness, show up every day, do your job, give it your all,” Peterson said. “He never thought he was a legend. He just thought he was a farm boy from Illinois and he brought that work ethic with him and that’s…why they really embrace him so much here in Utah.”
Season ticket holder Steve Austin left a Sloan favorite, a John Deere hat, at the base of the Jazz Note statue.
“Coach Sloan I think is the epitome of hard-nosed, never give up,” Austin told ABC4 News.
Asked some of his favorite moments from his Sloan’s career and his time on the sidelines, Austin was quick to answer.
“So I have a couple. I was talking about them on the way down,” Austin said. “When he tried to fight Jerry Stackhouse is my favorite. You know, Jerry Stackhouse is a huge guy. Coach Sloan goes after him. He wasn’t afraid to get right in there and then the other one is obviously The Shot, (John) Stockton. When the camera pans back to Stockton and then pans to Sloan and he’s got that huge smile on his face.”
Gretchen Chapman, who brought her six year old son Gus to the arena to buy a Jazz jersey, said watching Coach Sloan’s teams was her childhood.
“I just felt like he was a gentle giant and didn’t show a lot of expression,” Chapman said. “But just a powerful great coach and I love the love that (Karl) Malone and Stockton had for him.”
Now some are hoping the team will give Coach Sloan a permanent place watching Stockton to Malone frozen in time.
“I think that Jerry Sloan should have a statue,” Peterson said. “Right here with John and Karl where he belongs.”
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