Jerry Sloan

Gerald Eugene Sloan, better known as Jerry Sloan (born March 28, 1942), is a Basketball Hall of Fame coach with the Utah Jazz. He is one of professional basketball’s most successful coaches, with a career regular-season win–loss record of 1137–751 (as of the end of the 2008–09 NBA season), placing him fourth on the list of all-time most-winning NBA coaches. Sloan collected his 1,000th career win against the Dallas Mavericks on December 11, 2006, in a 101–79 victory, which made him only the fifth coach in NBA history to surpass this milestone. Sloan is the only coach in NBA history to record 1,000 wins with the same club, having reached that mark on November 7, 2008 with a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. He has also coached for one team longer than anyone in NBA history. The 2008–09 season was his 21st season (and 20th full season) as coach of the Jazz. However, he has not won an NBA Coach of the Year award, to the surprise of many but remains one of the league’s most respected coaches.
After Tom Kelly stepped down as manager of the Minnesota Twins in 2001, Sloan became the longest tenured head coach in American major league sports with their current franchise. The only manager in any top professional league that has headed their current team for longer is Sir Alex Ferguson of English football team Manchester United.

 

Playing career

Born and raised in McLeansboro, Illinois, Sloan graduated an all-state player from McLeansboro High School in 1960. He spent around five weeks at the University of Illinois then quit school due to homesickness. After working for a time at the oil fields, Sloan moved to the University of Evansville. He played college basketball under Evansville coach Arad McCutchan even as he worked part-time making refrigerators for Whirlpool. Amassing 15.5 points per contest, Sloan was the leading scorer for the purple aces in each of his three seasons as a starter. He led Evansville twice to the NCAA College Division Tournament (now known as the Division II Tournament) as the and was voted a second team All-American during his senior season.

NBA Playing Career

Sloan was originally selected as an eligible junior in the third round of the 1964 NBA Draft by the Baltimore Bullets. He decided to stay in college, and was then selected by the Bullets again in the 1965 NBA Draft with the sixth overall pick. He played just one season for the Bullets, then went on to play for the Chicago Bulls during the Bulls’ formative years. He was the first player selected by the Bulls in the expansion draft, earning him the nickname “The Original Bull.” Sloan was known for his tenacity on defense, and led the expansion team to the playoffs in its first season.

Sloan enjoyed a good NBA career, playing in two All-Star Games, being named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team four times and the All-Defensive Second team twice. He also led the Bulls to the playoffs on various occasions and helped them to win one division title, the only one the franchise has earned outside the Michael Jordan era. Sloan averaged 9.1 rebounds per game in his second season, and his career rebounding average of 7.4 rebounds per game is unusually high for a guard. He is currently fourth on the Bulls’ all-time scoring list. With an average of 2.15 steals per game (tabulated over his last three seasons), Sloan is ranked tenth in the NBA’s all-time leaders category for steals per game, just behind John Stockton (2.17 SPG). Sloan recorded two triple-doubles during his career, and scored a career-high 43 points in a 1969 game versus the Milwaukee Bucks.

A hard-nosed contract negotiator, Sloan earned a reputation of somewhat of a hustler while playing with the Bulls. His playing career was cut short by successive knee injuries, and he turned his attention to coaching. Because of his influential career with the Bulls, the franchise retired Sloan’s No. 4 jersey, the first jersey retired by the Bulls.

Coaching Career

While at Evansville, coach McCutchan suggested to Sloan to coach at his alma mater. After retiring in 1976, Sloan took the Evansville job but withdrew after five days.
After two years, Sloan was hired by the Bulls as a scout. After one season in this role, he became an assistant coach with the team. In 1979, Sloan moved up the ranks to become head coach of the Bulls. He was head coach of the Bulls for less than three seasons, winning 94 games and losing 121. He led the team to the playoffs in his second year, but was fired after a poor start during the next campaign.

After departing Chicago, Sloan became a scout for the Utah Jazz for one season. He then became coach of the Evansville Thunder of the Continental Basketball Association for the 1984 season before returning to the rank of Utah assistant. After Frank Layden’s retirement from the Utah Jazz in 1988 as head coach, the Jazz chose Sloan to be his successor.

Sloan enjoyed a highly successful run of sixteen consecutive seasons of taking his team to the playoffs, and he has coached such players as Karl Malone, John Stockton, Jeff Hornacek, Antoine Carr, Tom Chambers, Mark Eaton, and Jeff Malone during the process.
Sloan had led the Jazz to six division championships and ten seasons with over fifty wins. He also took the Jazz to the NBA Finals twice, losing in the 1997 and 1998 championships, both times to his old team, the Michael Jordan-led Bulls. By the end of this period, he had joined Pat Riley and Phil Jackson as the only coaches with ten or more seasons winning fifty or more games. After the retirement of long-time Jazz anchors Stockton and Malone, Sloan coached a younger group of budding stars, including Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko and, later, Deron Williams.

In spring of 2004, Sloan and his team were involved in a battle for the eighth spot in the NBA’s western conference for that season, which would have given Sloan his seventeenth straight trip to the playoffs. The Jazz were tied with the Denver Nuggets for the eighth and last spot of the playoffs with three games to go in the regular season. The Jazz lost the final two games, causing Sloan to miss the playoffs for the first time in eighteen seasons as Jazz coach. After leading a young, dismantled team to an unexpected 42–40 record, he finished just behind Hubie Brown of the Memphis Grizzlies in voting for the 2004 NBA Coach of the Year Award, an award that he has still never won, despite his success.

After disappointing seasons in 2004–05 and 2005–06, the strong play of the Jazz in the 2006–07 season had renewed speculation from some sportswriters that Sloan would be a strong candidate for NBA Coach of the Year in 2007. But Sloan lost the award to Sam Mitchell, coach of the Toronto Raptors, who led his team to a franchise-record-tying 47 victories and their first Atlantic Division title. Sloan lost by 93 points, 394–301. Third place runner up was Avery Johnson of the Dallas Mavericks with 268 points.
Sloan and the Jazz advanced to the Western Conference finals on May 15, 2007 with a 100–87 win over the Golden State Warriors. It’s the sixth time in franchise history that Utah advanced to the conference finals, all coming under Sloan.

Sloan said that he will be back to coach the Jazz next year during the 2008–2009 NBA season. During the season, Sloan reached 1,000 wins as coach of the Jazz on November 7 after Utah beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 104–97 in a Friday night game. He is the only coach in NBA history with 1,000 wins for one team. On January 18, 2009, Sloan agreed to return as head coach for the 2009–10 season.In April 2009 Sloan was announced to the Basketball Hall of Fame, alongside his former point guard John Stockton.

Resignation as Jazz head coach

Sloan revealed on February 7, 2011, that he had earlier in the year signed a contract extension to coach the Jazz for the 2011–12 season, which would have been his 24th season as head coach with the Jazz. However, on February 10, 2011, Sloan and assistant Phil Johnson resigned their positions effective immediately. Sloan downplayed reports that conflicts with players prompted his departure. “I’ve had confrontations with players since I’ve been in the league,” Sloan said. “There’s only so much energy left and my energy has dropped.” KSL-TV later asked Sloan whether reported conflicts with guard Deron Williams forced him to leave. “I forced myself out,” Sloan responded. Williams acknowledged that he had a disagreement with Sloan during the previous night’s game, but he added, “I would never force coach Sloan out of Utah. He’s meant more to this town, more to this organization than I have by far. I would have asked out of Utah first.”

His last NBA game as Jazz head coach came against, coincidentally, the Chicago Bulls. The Jazz lost, 91–86, on February 9, in a game with various subplots such as former Jazz forward Carlos Boozer, now a Los Angeles Laker, revisiting his former club, and Sloan’s long association with the Bulls as a player and coach. Assistant coach Tyrone Corbin was named as Sloan’s replacement.

Phil Jackson’s reaction to his resignation was typical of the response from around the league:

He was stubborn, you have to be as a coach. But he had a system and the system was effective. It’s not easy to have a team in Utah. It’s not the biggest draw in the country as far as free agents to go there. And they were able to have a really great home record, played the kind of basketball that was admirable. So we all had admiration for him as coaches around the league. So as a colleague, we’ll miss him.

Phil Jackson, Former Chicago Bulls/Los Angeles Lakers head coach

Nearly two weeks later, Williams was involved in a trade on February 23, 2011 that sent him to the New Jersey Nets. Without the familiar sight of Sloan on the Jazz sideline and now without an all-star talent in Williams, longtime NBA writer Ian Thomsen wrote, “First Jerry Sloan leaves, now Williams is sent away. For two decades we knew who the Utah Jazz were and what they stood for as a franchise. Now we, and they, can have no idea.”

A year later Karl Malone, who played under Sloan for more than a decade, indicated that Sloan did not feel supported by Kevin O’Conner and Greg Miller.

Return to the Jazz

On June 19, 2013, the Utah Jazz announced that Sloan was returning as an adviser and scouting consultant.

On January 31, 2014, the Jazz honored Sloan by raising a banner featuring the number “1223,” which represents Sloan wins with the Jazz from 1988 to 2011.

Personal life

Sloan married his high-school sweetheart, Bobbye. After a well-publicized six-year battle against breast cancer, she died of pancreatic cancer in 2004. They had three children and were married 41 years. One of his sons, Brian, also played basketball for McLeansboro High School and was a member of its undefeated 1984 state championship team, and also played five seasons under Coach Bob Knight at Indiana University, collecting an NCAA title in 1987.

In 2006 Jerry Sloan married Tammy Jessop, in Salt Lake City. Sloan has a stepson, Rhett as a result of this marriage.

Sloan is known to wear John Deere hats and to collect and restore tractors as a hobby. After amassing a collection of tractors that numbered 70, Sloan decided to sell all but two of them after a 35-year-old Allis-Chalmers tractor was stolen. After years of a self-confessed habit of drinking and smoking too much, he has since stopped both, although he has claimed that it never affected him or his coaching

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