Jerry Sloan, a longtime coach for the Utah Jazz, died on Friday morning, the team announced. He was 78 years old. Sloan was battling Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia at the time of his death. He coached the Jazz from 1988-2011.
"Jerry Sloan will always be synonymous with the Utah Jazz," the team said in a statement. "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."
Sloan began his coaching career in 1978 as an assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls. He became the team's head coach in 1979 and led the team to the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 1981. He was fired from the team the following year and joined the Jazz coaching staff in 1985 as an assistant. He then became the head coach of the Jazz in 1988, and with the help of legendary players John Stockton and Karl Malone, Sloan led the Jazz to 15 consecutive playoff appearances.
"Like Stockton and Malone as players, Jerry Sloan epitomized the organization," the team said. "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." The Miller Family, who own the Jazz also released a statement on Sloan's death. They appreciated the relationship they had with Sloan over the year and called him one of the greatest and most respected coaches in NBA history.
"He has left an enduring legacy with this franchise and our family," the Miller family said in a statement. "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."
In his career, Sloan won 1,233 games with the Jazz with 20 trips to the playoffs and two NBA Finals appearances. He was also a pretty good NBA player as he was a two-time All-Star when he was with the Chicago Bulls. He was also named to the NBA All-Defensive Team six times and his No. 4 jersey was retired by the team. Sloan was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.