Longtime Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan died at age 78 on Friday.
The Jazz announced Sloan’s passing on Twitter with a photo captioned “Rest easy, coach.”
“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 in a statement. “We are so thankful for what he accomplished here in Utah and the decades of dedication, loyalty and tenacity he brought to our franchise. … Like (John) Stockton and (Karl) 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.”
A stoic Sloan revealed in 2016 he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
“I’m not scared,” Sloan said at the time.
Sloan was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009. He spent 23 years as head coach of the Jazz and 26 as a coach in the NBA. The Jazz went to the playoffs 20 times in his 23 seasons, including back-to-back trips to the NBA Finals in 1996-97 and 1997-98.
Sloan compiled a 1,221-803 regular-season record and ranks fourth all-time on the victories list.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement Friday afternoon.
“Jerry Sloan was among the NBA’s most respected and admired legends,” Silver said. “After an All-Star playing career in which his relentless style shaped the Chicago Bulls in their early years, he became one of 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 players, colleagues and the Bulls and Jazz organizations.”
An original member of the expansion Chicago Bulls in 1966-67, Sloan jumped to coaching after an 11-year playing career. He was known for his hard-nosed defense as a player but also averaged 18.3 points per game in 1970-71.
Sloan was a two-time All-Star and four-time All-Defensive First Team selection.
Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf also released a statement.
“Jerry Sloan was ‘The Original Bull’ whose tenacious defense and nightly hustle on the court represented the franchise and epitomized the city of Chicago,” Reinsdorf said. “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. A great player and a Hall-of-Fame NBA coach, most importantly, Jerry was a great person. Our sympathies go out to the Sloan family and all his many fans.”