Longtime Jazz coach Jerry Sloan dies at age 78

Jerry Sloan, a bulldog as a player for the Chicago Bulls and coach of the Utah Jazz, died Friday at the age of 78.

The Jazz announced that Sloan had died from complications from Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia, which he had revealed diagnoses of in April 2016.

“Jerry Sloan will always be synonymous with the Utah Jazz. He will forever be a part of the Utah Jazz organization and we join his family, friends and fans in mourning his loss,” the team said in a statement. “We are so thankful for what he accomplished here in Utah and the decades of dedication, loyalty and tenacity he brought to our franchise.

“… Like [John] Stockton and [Karl] Malone as players, Jerry Sloan epitomized the organization. He will be greatly missed. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Tammy, the entire Sloan family and all who knew and loved him.”

Sloan was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009 after a 26-year coaching career, 23 of them with the Jazz. His no-nonsense style blended perfectly with Hall of Fame players Malone and Stockton, leading to 15 straight playoff appearances. The Jazz’s nearly unstoppable pick-and-roll offense resulted in Western Conference titles in 1997 and 1998, but Utah lost each time to the Bulls, the team Sloan played for and coached.

Known for his defensive intensity as a player, Sloan became a fan favorite as one of the “Original Bulls.” He played one season with the Baltimore Bullets before being taken by the Bulls in the expansion draft. That first Chicago team made the playoffs despite having a losing record. Led by Bob Love, Norm Van Lier, Nate Thurmond and Sloan, the Bulls reached the postseason in seven of their first eight seasons, losing in the conference finals twice.

Sloan’s playing career was cut short by injuries after 10 years. He averaged 14.0 points per game, with a career-best of 18.3 with the Bulls in 1970-71. He was a two-time All-Star and was four times named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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