Jerry Sloan, head coach of the NBA's Utah Jazz for 23 seasons. retired last February 10, 2011. [firstpara]
While casual basketball fans will probably remember the man as that old white-haired guy who coached that team that the Chicago Bulls beat in the 1997 and 1998 NBA Finals, real NBA fans would know him as that old white-haired guy who really knew his stuff. Or at least something like that.
Resilient, old-school, and tough as nails— that's Jerry Sloan. And though he never won a championship in all his years with the Jazz, the respect and admiration afforded to him is still tremendous.
You just don't become a head coach, and stay there for 23 seasons if you didn't know what you were doing. Or if your love for the game were any less than Sloan's.
In fact, there have been 245 coaching changes around the league since the time Sloan started this gig, which just goes to show that it's just not that easy to stay in the game.
And season after season, every time Jazz games were being shown on TV, we'd see the same passion and love for the game on Sloan's face. You'd have never known he'd been in the league for so long because his demeanor on the sidelines always reflected his unwavering dedication.
For a true NBA fan, it's really going to be slightly unsettling to see a Jazz game without Sloan on the sidelines. We wish Sloan luck in whatever his future endeavors will be, but in the meantime, let's take a look back at his career, both as a player and coach.
1) Jerry Sloan (born March 28, 1942) was drafted by the Baltimore Bullets with the 4th overall pick in 1965. His rookie year saw him average 5.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game playing in just 16 minutes per contest.
2) The 1966 NBA season saw the birth of a new NBA franchise, the Chicago Bulls. This led to an expansion draft where the Chicago Bulls got to choose unprotected players from the other teams. Jerry Sloan was the first played to be picked.
3) For 10 years, from 1966 to 1976, Jerry Sloan played for the Bulls.
4) Being one of the team’s first real stars and being the first to be picked in the expansion draft, Jerry Sloan was given the nickname, “The Original Bull.”
5) Jerry Sloan’s best statistical season came in the 1970-1971 season. He averaged 18.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game in just a shade under 40 minutes per contest.
NEXT: Sloan's player accolades
WORDS BY: GELO GONZALES