Jerry West honors late Bulls star, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan: ‘He was tough as hell’
NBA Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan passed away on Friday, leading to an outpour of support and tributes from the sports community from beyond the mortal realm. Chief among those memorials was Jerry West, another player-turned-coach (and later executive), who remembered Sloan as a tough player.
“At that time, hell, you could almost take two hands, it’s almost like driving a car,” West told Bill Oram of The Athletic. “Jerry in particular was an old farm boy, and he was strong as hell. You had a lot of scratches on ya after a game with him.”
The current Los Angeles Clippers exec went on to describe Sloan as a “relentless” NBA player who wouldn’t let any player he guarded to leave without any bruise.
“I would tell you two things about Jerry,” West added. “As a player, it was ridiculous. He was relentless. After the game, you’re going to have a lot of bruises on you. If you’re going for a layup, you’re going to be on the floor.”
Sloan also brought the same personality when he became an NBA head coach, particularly during his time with the Utah Jazz.
“He was tough as hell, he wanted his team to be reflected of who he was and that’s ultimately what you got with him,” West said of Sloan. “You weren’t going to have an easy game against the Utah Jazz, period, with him as coach.”
West spent 14 years with the Lakers, winning one championship in 1972 and crossing paths with Sloan during his playing days. Sloan’s 10-year playing career overlapped with West’s, who is considered one of the league’s most dominant guards of his time.
Sloan became coach of the Chicago Bulls from 1979-82 — just as West was wrapping up his short stint as L.A.’s coach. The legendary NBA guard then had to see plenty of Sloan and his Jazz when West became an executive for the Lakers.
Jerry Sloan and the Jazz were a pillar of competitiveness and excellence in the Western Conference, reaching back-to-back NBA Finals appearances in 1997-98 and 15 consecutive seasons with a winning record.