Basketball Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan, who coached the Utah Jazz for 23 seasons and led them to two NBA finals, died on Friday due to complications from Parkinson’s disease, his former team said. He was aged 78.
“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 was twice named to the NBA All-Star team as a player. But he made his name as a coach, ranking fourth on the all-time wins list with 1,223, most of those with the Jazz.
He began his head coaching career with the Chicago Bulls (1979-82). After a stint as an assistant in Utah, he took over the top job with the Jazz in 1988 and was a fixture courtside until he retired in 2011.
Sloan was also the first coach to win 1,000 games with one franchise and was the fifth coach in NBA history to record 1,000 career wins.
Despite a record of success that included 16 consecutive winning seasons, thirteen 50-win seasons and 20 trips to the NBA play-offs, Sloan was never able to hoist the championship trophy.
He took the Jazz to the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998 with John Stockton and Karl Malone, both times losing to his former team, the Chicago Bulls, and Michael Jordan.
Often described as hard-nosed, Sloan ranks second on the NBA’s all-time list for consecutive games coached with one franchise (1,809), as well as the second-most wins with one team (1,127).
His 16 consecutive winning seasons, from 1988-2004, rank fourth among NBA coaches, behind Gregg Popovich (22), Phil Jackson (20), and Pat Riley (19). He joined Popovich (22), Jackson (11) and Red Auerbach (11) as the only four coaches in NBA history to have 10 straight winning seasons with one team.