Jerry Sloan, who guided the Utah Jazz for 23 seasons during a Hall of Fame coaching career before retiring in 2011, died on Friday at age 78.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise announced his death on Twitter with a photo captioned: “Rest easy, coach.”

They added in a statement: “Jerry Sloan will always be synonymous with the Utah Jazz. He will forever be a part of the Utah Jazz organisation 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. Like (John) Stockton and (Karl) Malone as players, Jerry Sloan epitomised the organisation.”

Sloan revealed in 2016 he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He had also been battling Lewy body dementia since at least 2015. “I’m not scared,” he said at the time.

The Illinois native was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.

He spent 23 years as head coach of the Jazz and 26 as a coach in the NBA. The Jazz went to the play-offs 20 times in his 23 seasons, including back-to-back trips to the NBA Finals in 1996-97 and 1997-98, only to lose to the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls each time.

Sloan compiled a 1,221-803 regular-season record and ranks fourth all-time on the victories list.

“Jerry Sloan was among the NBA’s most respected and admired legends,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said.

“After an All-Star playing career in which his relentless style shaped the Chicago Bulls in their early years, he became one of the all-time greatest head coaches during 23 seasons with the Utah Jazz.

“He was the first coach to win 1,000 games with the same organisation, which came to embody the qualities that made him Hall of Famer: persistence, discipline, drive and selflessness.”

An original member of the expansion Bulls side in 1966-67, Sloan jumped to coaching after an 11-year playing career.

He was known for his hard-nosed defence as a player but also averaged 18.3 points per game in 1970-71.

He was also a two-time All-Star and four-time All-Defensive First Team selection.

Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/sport/basketball/utahs-hall-of-fame-coach-jerry-sloan-dies-at-78

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