Basketball Legend Jerry Sloan Dead at 78

Sloan, a Hall of Famer, passed away on Friday

Jerry Sloan coaches during a game, before his death in 2020
Jerry Sloan coached the Utah Jazz for 23 seasons.
Sporting News via Getty Images
By Jack Tien-Dana / May 22, 2020 1:15 pm

Jerry Sloan, the Hall of Fame former coach of the Utah Jazz, has died at the age of 78. On Friday morning, the Jazz announced that Sloan passed away due to complications with Parkinson’s and Lewy body dementia, a disease he had battled since at least 2015.

“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 retired in 2011 as the third-winningest coach of all time, having racked up 1221 wins over his 23 seasons with the Jazz. Most famously, Sloan appeared in back-to-back NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998, where his teams ultimately lost to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Recently, his post-game press conference after Michael Jordan’s “Flu Game” in 1997 was featured in The Last Dance, in which he famously claimed that he didn’t even know Jordan was sick. 

“The far-reaching impact of his life has touched our city, state and the world as well as countless players, staff and fans,”  Jazz owner Gail Miller and her family said in a statement. “We pray his family will find solace and comfort in Jerry’s life and it is with much gratitude, yet sadness, that we honor him at his passing.”

A former all-star player in the 1960s and 70s, Sloan became the head coach of the Jazz in 1988. On the court, Sloan’s influence endures: he was one of the pioneers of modern, free-flowing offenses. Notably, his teams in the 1990s — led by John Stockton and Karl Malone — popularized and perfected the pick-and-roll, which has since become a basketball staple. 

He is survived by his wife Tammy and his children Dr. Brian Sloan (Leslie), Holly Sloan Parish (Tim), Kathy Sloan Wood (Todd), and Rhett Jessop.

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