Longtime Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan dies at 78

Pat Riley and Jerry Sloan

The youngest of 10 children, Sloan lost his father at a young age and, without a vehicle, had to hitchhike to get to his youth games. Sloan coached the Jazz for 23 years, made the playoffs in 20 of those campaigns and led the team that made it to the Finals in 1997 and 1998.

'He will be greatly missed. "Coach (Jerry) Sloan is not doing well, so I want you guys to pray for coach Sloan". The Jazz's almost unstoppable pick-and-roll offense resulted in Western Conference titles in 1997 and 1998, but Utah lost each time in the NBA Finals to the Bulls, the team Sloan played for and then coached.

"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", Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said Friday. He also guided the Jazz to 16 consecutive winning seasons and thirteen 50-win seasons.

As a player, Sloan earned Basketball Hall of Fame status. The coach inspired intense loyalty from his two signature stars because, as Stockton noted, Sloan "never asked for credit, he avoids it". Whether it be his hall of fame career with the organization that stretched from 1966-1976, his coaching tenure with the organization that stretched from 1978-1982, or even his time as head coach in the Utah Jazz organization from 1988-2011, where his team became one of the Bulls' bitter rivals for a period of time.

In the aftermath, Sloan, the longest-tenured coach in the National Basketball Association at the time, stepped down from his prestigious position. Only Lenny Wilkens, Don Nelson and Gregg Popovich have more victories. I've got a great organization to work for that's given me an opportunity to stay there for a long time. "He brought a lot to the game and I learned a lot from him as a coach and as a human being so it was sad news for me to hear today".

For almost his entire career, Sloan found himself a part of the Chicago Bulls story. "We have appreciated our relationship with Jerry and acknowledge his dedication to and passion for the Utah Jazz".

'The far-reaching impact of his life has touched our city, state and the world as well as countless players, staff and fans.

A stoic Sloan revealed in 2016 he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

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