One of the greatest NBA head coaches of all time and the icon of the Utah Jazz, Jerry Sloan, died earlier today at the age of 78.
Sloan, who was also an All-Star during his playing career, had Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia, which eventually caused complications, leading to his death.
His Utah Jazzed confirmed the news this morning and also issued a statement in honor of the person who was in charge of the team from the Salt Lake City for 23 years.
“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,” the team said.
Rest easy, Coach ❤️
— utahjazz (@utahjazz) May 22, 2020
Loyalty was one of his greatest virtues. Sloan spent his playing career with two teams, the same as with the coaching tenure. Two teams marked his NBA legacy, the Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz.
After being picked by the Baltimore Bullets as the fourth overall pick in the 1965 NBA Draft, he would join the Bulls after just one season with the Bullets. Sloan spent 10 seasons there becoming a two-time All-Star, 6-time All-NBA Defensive team, and had his jersey retired.
From 1978 to 1982, Sloan coached Chicago, leading them to the Conference semis in 1981, but being fired the year after.
In 1989 he became the head coach of the Utah Jazz, and in 23 seasons, he missed the playoffs on just three occasions. Utah was the powerhouse in the West, winning the conference twice, and losing to Bulls in the NBA Finals in ’97 and ’98.
With John Stockton and Karl Malone in his team, he would perfect their pick and roll and use it in the best possible way, creating nightmare situations for the opponents’ defenses. Although he never won the title, there is no debate about his influence on the game. Sloan is the coach with the third-highest number of victories in history with 1,223, and one of two head coaches who eclipsed a 1,000-win mark with one team.
He is also one of four head coaches who posted 15 or more straight campaigns with winning records, and that pretty much tells it all about his legacy as Utah’s leader.
“The Original Bull.”
Rest in peace, Jerry Sloan ❤️
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) May 22, 2020
It would be unfair to neglect Sloan’s period spent with the Bulls, where he became a team icon, known for his relentless and hard defense. He was the “Original Bull” and arguably one of the greatest players in the franchise’s history before the Jordan Era.
During his stay there, Chicago won the only divisional title before MJ and the boys.
Unfortunately, constant problems with knees forced Sloan to retire, and the Bulls retired his No.4 jersey. It was the first such honor in the Bulls’ history. Right now, he is still among the top five players in Chicago’s history in points, rebounds, games and minutes. According to some, along with MJ and Pippen, the best defender also.
The franchise form the Windy City made a statement this morning, expressing the mourn because of their legend’s death.
“Jerry Sloan was ‘The Original Bull’ whose tenacious defense and nightly hustle on the court represented the franchise and epitomized the city of Chicago,” Jerry Reinsdorf wrote in a statement. “Jerry was the face of the Bulls organization from its inception through the mid-1970s, and very appropriately, his uniform No. 4 was the first jersey retired by the team.”
WagerBop sends sympathies to the Sloan family. RIP, “Original Bull.”
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.