NBA community reacts to death of Jazz, Bulls legend Jerry Sloan
The NBA community is mourning the passing of Jerry Sloan, who died on Friday after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia at 78 years old. Sloan was a legendary coach for the Utah Jazz after starring for the Chicago Bulls as a player and spending a brief time as Bulls coach.
— Mike Conley (@MCONLEY10) May 22, 2020
RIP Coach Sloan! ❤️ Legend!! https://t.co/hKeAReoqLV
— Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) May 22, 2020
Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles also chimed in:
R.I.P Jerry Sloan 🙏🏽
— Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) May 22, 2020
RIP Coach.. You don’t think of the Jazz without thinking of Coach Sloan, Thankyou. https://t.co/89I7uUeZqy
— Joe Ingles (@Joeingles7) May 22, 2020
One of Sloan’s former star players, Deron Williams, posted an emotional message on Instagram. While Sloan and Williams didn’t end on the best of terms in Utah, the former NBA point guard was able to reconcile with the coach before his death:
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Very sad to hear about the passing of Coach Sloan this am. I’m praying for Tammy and their family during this time. 🙏🏽 I know things didn’t end well between us in Utah, however I’m glad that i got the chance to sit down with him before it was too late. Definitely something that would have haunted me for the rest of my life. Blessed that i got to play for him and learn so much from him during my 5 1/2 years in Utah. You knew he always had your back when you stepped out on that court. #ripcoachsloan #legend
Derrick Favors, who played nine NBA seasons with the Jazz and enjoyed only a few games under Sloan during his rookie season and part of his second season, paid his respects as well:
RIP Coach Sloan 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾 https://t.co/U0Uz9WDsDK
— Derrick Favors (@dfavors14) May 22, 2020
Sloan played 11 seasons in the NBA during the ’60s and ’70s, drafted by the Baltimore Bullets, but spending his last 10 seasons with the Chicago Bulls. He averaged double digits in each of his 10 seasons with the Bulls, known for his tough defense and unparalleled rebounding as a 6-foot-5 small forward.
Sloan was known as “The Original Bull” and brought that bull-like tenacity to his coaching, soon emerging as a defensive-minded boss of the NBA sidelines — a method that brought him much success in his 23 years with the Jazz.
That generated respect as even some of his non-contemporaries mourned his loss.
Scottie Pippen, who played against Sloan’s Jazz in the 1997 and 1998 NBA Finals, gave him the ultimate praise:
I loved everything about Jerry Sloan, from the way he played to the way he coached. He was a tenacious competitor who represented the Bulls of the 70s so well. Jerry became one of my favorite coaches when he was on the 1996 Dream Team staff and it was an honor to learn from him. pic.twitter.com/pEhbmiFbzp
— Scottie Pippen (@ScottiePippen) May 22, 2020
Longtime Bulls beat writer K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago provided some color from Sloan’s former teammate, Bob Love:
“Jerry was the ultimate teammate,” said Love. “Nothing scared him. Nothing was too hard for him. Nothing was too tough for him. Jerry was always on top of his everything. It’s a sad day. My condolences to his family.”
Love and Sloan have their numbers retired next to each other in the rafters of the United Center:
— Connor Smith (@CivilWar_Quotes) May 22, 2020
Other tenured NBA scribes like David Aldridge of The Athletic paid homage to Sloan, not only as a central figure in ’90s basketball but as a teacher and a human being:
I learned so much about basketball sitting at the bar with Jerry Sloan and his longtime assistant Phil Johnson. They were beyond patient with a young, dumb reporter. And Jerry never made excuses if his team lost-which wasn’t that often. RIP to a great, great coach. https://t.co/PaQLnMLn1j
— David Aldridge (@davidaldridgedc) May 22, 2020
Sloan is synonymous with Jazz folklore, as one of the longest-tenured coaches in NBA history and one of the best to roam the sidelines with one NBA franchise. The Athletic has a beautifully written Sloan obituary with input from a number of others involved in the NBA legend’s life.