Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan passes away at 78

Published: 11:18am, May 22, 2020 EDT | Updated: 11:29am, May 22, 2020 EDT

Written by Ben the Pen

Jerry Sloan was known one of the toughest defenders of his generation and a very successful coach in the eighties and nineties. Sloan died on Friday at 78 from complications of Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia, which was announced by the Utah Jazz.

Sloan, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, spent 23 seasons as the head coach of Utah (1988-2011) and wound up with the third-most wins in NBA history (1,221). He also had the sixth-best winning percentage (.603), won seven division titles and made the NBA Finals twice (1997 and 1998).

He also won at last 50 games in 10 different seasons and had 16 consecutive winning seasons, which ranks him fourth-most all-time. In many ways, he was just as important to the Utah Jazz as was John Stockton and Karl Malone. He spent 34 years in the organization as a head coach, assistant, scout and senior basketball adviser.

But he was also an excellent basketball player, who was a two-team NBA All-Star with the Chicago Bulls (1967, 1969) and spent 11 seasons with the Bulls and Baltimore Bullets. He became the first player in Bulls' history to have his number retired when the franchise retired his No. 4 in 1978. He averaged 14.0 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.

Sloan was diagnosed with Parkinson's and Lewy body dementia in 2015, according to Gordon Monson of the Salt Lake Tribune. Monson was told by a Sloan family friend in 2019 that Sloan was "dying" and struggling with the disease.

He married his high-school sweetheart, Bobbye, who passed away of pancreatic cancer in 2004. Sloan married Tammy Jessop in 2006.