He celebrated his 78th birthday on March 28. Jerry Sloan, legendary Utah Jazz coach between 1988 and 2011, died on Friday. He had Parkinson's disease and also suffered from dementia with Lewy bodies, a neurodegenerative disease.
Drafted by the Baltimore Bullets (1965-1966), then passed by the Bulls (1966-1976) during his playing career, the native of McLeansboro (Illinois) had then embraced a coaching career.
1.223 victories with the Utah Jazz
First in Chicago, from 1979 to 1982, then taking control of the Utah Jazz in 1988. A franchise that he led twice to the NBA finals against the Bulls of Michael Jordan (defeated in 1997 and 1998). After 23 years of service, the former rear wing had announced his departure to the surprise in 2011, explaining then needing to "move on". In all of his seasons, Sloan had only finished once below 50% of wins.
"Jerry Sloan will always be associated with Utah Jazz. We are so grateful for all he has accomplished here. His 1,223 coaching successes, 20 playoff qualifiers and two finals are remarkable achievements," said reacted the Utah Jazz in a statement.
If he has never won a single title, his longevity makes him one of the most iconic and recognized coaches in NBA history. Only three coaches have had more success than him: Don Nelson (1.335), Lenny Wilkens (1.332) and Gregg Popovich (1.272). Sloan entered the Hall of Fame, the pantheon of US basketball, in 2009.