Basketball Hall of Fame coach and former player Jerry Sloan died May 22, 2020 at his home in Salt Lake City as a result of Parkinson’s Disease and Lewy body dementia at the age of 78.
Sloan was the head coach for the National Basketball Association Utah Jazz for 23 years and led the team to the championship twice. He ranks fourth on the NBA list of winningest coaches with 1,221 wins.
Over the course of his career, Sloan spent a total of 34 years with the Jazz as a scout, assistant coach, head coach, and senior basketball advisor.
As a player, Sloan was on the NCAA national championship team twice and a two time All Star as a member of the Chicago Bulls where his number four jersey was the first to be retired by the Bulls. His career was cut short due to a knee injury. In an era where players look to rack up statistics, Sloan remains the only player in the NBA to have at least seven rebounds and two steals in every game during his career.
He was an assistant coach on the Olympic Gold Medal winning Team USA basketball team in Atlanta in 1996.
In 1977, Sloan was set to take over the head coaching duties at his alma mater Evansville when head coach Arad McCutcheon retired, but he suddenly backed out citing personal reasons. Later that year, a plane carrying the team crashed, killing all aboard. Many years later Sloan spoke on the incident saying, “that incident on December the 13th, 1977, made me realize that there are a lot more things more important than basketball. Even though I love this game, I will always be grateful for what it’s given me.”
Gerald Eugene Sloan was born on March 28, 1942 inMcLeansboro, Illinois the youngest of 10 children and grew up on the family farm and later a basketball star at McLeansboro High School. He was only four years old when his father died.
Predeceased by his first wife Bobbye, Sloans’ survivors include his second wife Tammy; children Brian, Holly, and Kathy; and step-son Rhett.
feature photo credit: By Stephanie Young Merzel – https://www.flickr.com/photos/justthismoment/2064741452/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=90601489