One of the greatest coaches in NBA history, Jerry Sloan, died today. He was 78 and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia four years ago.
Sloan’s Impact on Utah Immeasurable
Sloan wrote history while coaching the Jazzers, in the best possible way we need to add. After taking over the team in 1988, after being an assistant coach for three years, he transformed the franchise from an average into a powerhouse and a title contender who was one of the top teams in the NBA in the next decade.
With Karl Malone and John Stockton, Sloan was the trademark of the Jazz. The two perfected their pick and roll game beside Sloan, who made the team in accordance with the style of play his two key players had.
But not only that, he would diversify their offensive arsenal, and bring players who made Utah one of the most enjoyable teams to watch.
They lost both NBA finals against the Bulls, but even so, Utah was arguably among the top 5 teams of the 90s.
With Sloan leading the way, they didn’t reach the playoffs just three times. From 1989 to 2003, Utah appeared in the postseason each time.
In the moment of his retirement, Sloan had 1,223 wins and 803 losses, holding the No.3 position on the all-time winning list. However, along with Greg Popovich, the McLeansboro, Illinois-born, is the only person with 1,000 triumphs while leading the same franchise.
It is interesting that Sloan never won the Coach of the Year award, although he constantly recorded superb results. According to the vast majority of the experts, it is one of the biggest injustice in the NBA ever.
Still, in 2009, the league inducted Sloan in the Hall of Fame, and crowned his magnificent coaching career.
The Original Bull
Apart from having a stellar head coaching tenure, Jerry Sloan had a distinguished playing career. He was one of the first big stars of the Chicago Bulls, earning the honor of seeing his jersey retired.
The No.4 he wore for ten years is the first jersey retired in the Bulls franchise history. From 1966 to 1976, Sloan was the leading player of this team, becoming an NBA All-star and one of the best, if not the best defensive player of that decade.
He was a two-time All-Star participant in ’67 and ’69, and a six-time All-NBA defensive team. Sloan was famous for his relentless approach to the game, and was aggressive beyond all limits. Even though he wasn’t powerful and didn’t have the body as other players, Sloan was constantly among the best rebounders in the Bulls.
Those were the years when Chicago won the first divisional title, which was the only one until MJ. They would reach Conference finals twice, but lost both times, against the Bucks, and the Warriors.
He was one of the Original Bulls, the ones who shaped the franchise’s history and reputation. The irony, in the end, was that he suffered the biggest defeats against that same team.