Hall of Fame NBA coach Jerry Sloan dies at 78; he led Utah Jazz for 23 seasons

Jerry Sloan, the Hall of Fame basketball coach who spent a majority of his coaching career with the Utah Jazz and was a former NBA player with the Chicago Bulls, died on Friday. He was 78 years old.

Sloan announced in 2016 that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia, a terrible combination of neurological disorders.

Sloan said he decided to go public with the diagnosis because the symptoms were noticeable. He also told the "Salt Lake Tribune" he didn’t “want people feeling sorry for me.”

Sloan was one of the greatest coaches in NBA history and is No. 4 on the all-time winningest coaches list with 1,221 victories. Among coaches with at least 500 games coached, he is ninth with a .603 winning percentage.

“Jerry Sloan will always be synonymous with the Utah Jazz," the team said in a statement. "He will forever be a part of the Utah Jazz organization 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."

Said the Miller family, which owns the Jazz: "“It was an honor and a privilege to have one of the greatest and most respected coaches in NBA history coaching our team. We have appreciated our relationship with Jerry and acknowledge his dedication to and passion for the Utah Jazz.

"He has left an enduring legacy with this franchise and our family. The far-reaching impact of his life has touched our city, state and the world as well as countless players, staff and fans. We pray his family will find solace and comfort in Jerry’s life. The Miller family and Jazz organization will be proud to honor him with a permanent tribute."

He spent 23 seasons with Utah, and Sloan and San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich are the only coaches in NBA history to win 1,000 games with one team. In his 26 seasons – three with the Bulls – he had just three losing seasons and just one losing season in his two-plus decades with Utah.

Late in the 2010-11 season, citing lack of energy, Sloan resigned even though Jazz ownership and the front office tried to persuade him to finish the season.

Sloan guided the Jazz to consecutive playoff appearances and 13 seasons with at least 50 victories, including 64 victories in 1996-97 and 62 victories in 1997-98. Coached by Sloan and led on the court by Karl Malone and John Stockton, the Jazz won the Western Conference title both of those seasons but lost to Chicago and Michael Jordan in the NBA Finals each time.

Jerry Sloan, basketball, 1942-2020 (Photo: Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY)

Sloan was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009.

“Being inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame is an achievement unsurpassed in my career,” Sloan said at his induction ceremony. “From my beginning in McLeansboro (Illinois), the game of basketball has introduced me to opportunities and life experiences I never dreamed. I was a youngster – the youngest of 10 children – raised by my mother on a farm which was located 16 miles from the nearest town.

“My father passed away when I was 4 years old and older brothers and sisters had to help take care of our family. They could not play basketball because they had to work. Fortunately for me, my family was instrumental in my decision to play and their support was unwavering.”

Born in McLeansboro in 1942, Sloan attended the first six years of elementary school in a one-room school and sometimes had to walk or hitchhike to high school basketball practice.

Sloan became an all-state player in high school and played college basketball at Evansville. The Baltimore Bullets drafted Sloan in 1965 with the No. 4 overall pick and traded him to Chicago the following season. With the Bulls, Sloan was a shooting guard-small forward with a knack for defense. He averaged 14 points and 7.4 rebounds in his 11-year career, was a two-time All-Star and named all-first team defense four times.

After he retired in 1976, Sloan took the head coaching job at his alma mater but withdrew from the position five days later. That season, the Evansville basketball team and coaching staff died in a plane crash.

"It comes across my mind every morning I go to work," Sloan told a reporter in 1997.

Sloan joined the Bulls as a scout and became head coach in 1979. He spent three seasons and was fired after 51 games of the 1981-82 season. He became an assistant with the Jazz in 1985 and became head coach in 1988, taking over for Frank Layden.

Stockton was in his fifth season and Malone in his fourth. Under Sloan, Stockton and Malone turned the Jazz into an annual playoff team.

“He demanded a lot. He expected a lot. He held everybody accountable,” Malone told reporters in 2014. “I grew up the old-school way with my grandma and my mom. You hold that person accountable. You tell that person when they’re screwing up and you tell the person what he needs to do. That’s how Coach was with me. Right off the bat, I knew I was dealing with a real person.”

Sloan, who often ate his pre-game dinner in the media dining room alongside reporters, loved defense, but he had two offensive weapons in Stockton and Malone. They became a formidable 1-2 punch and perfected the pick-and-roll. Malone is the NBA’s second all-time leading scorer, and Stockton is No. 1 in all-time assists – with 3,715 more than Jason Kidd at No. 2.

“He was a genius,” Stockton told reporters. “You had to motivate guys without burying them. You had to credit them without egos running amok.”

Sloan was a no-nonsense coach who never strayed far from his Midwestern farmer’s values of hard work, dedication and loyalty. Away from the game, Sloan loved to wear John Deere hats and collected antique tractors, furniture, old cash registers and pottery.

“What you see is what you get,” Malone said. “That guy never changed in all these years with me. … He never demanded respect. He earned it by who he was as a person and the way he treated you as a player.”

When Sloan retired, then-NBA Commissioner David Stern released a statement.

"Few people have epitomized all the positives of team sports more than Jerry Sloan," the statement read. "A basketball lifer, Jerry was as relentless in his will to win on the sidelines for the Utah Jazz as he was as an All-Star guard for the Chicago Bulls. In over two decades as a coach, he taught his players that nothing was more important than the team. His most impressive qualities were his leadership and his extraordinary ability to encourage his players to subjugate their individual games for the benefit of the whole."

In 2017, at a reunion for the 1996-97 team, Sloan said, “I’ve been lucky to stick around as long as I have. This organization has been more than fair to me and my family.”

Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt

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Haaland's former coach reveals secrets behind his rapid rise

Erling Haaland ‘put on twelve kilos of muscle in 15 months’ and has freakish genetics ‘designed in a football lab’… Borussia Dortmund star’s former coach reveals the secrets behind the 19-year-old’s rapid rise

  • Erling Haaland has emerged as one of the most promising players in the world 
  • His rapid rise has been staggering and striker is thriving at Borussia Dortmund 
  • Haaland went from skinny teenager to 6ft 4in powerhouse with electric pace 
  • His former coach Erase Steenslid has revealed the secrets behind his success

Erling Haaland is the talk of world football having shot to stardom with RB Salzburg and he is now delivering scintillating displays for Borussia Dortmund. 

The remarkable trajectory of his career has caught some by surprise but not his former coach Erase Steenslid, who has lifted the lid on the secrets behind the striker’s ability. 

He spoke to AS, who featured an image of Haaland mocked up as half man, half machine alongside the words: ‘Cyborgoal – 19 year old Haaland is designed in a football lab.’

Erling Haaland scored his 12th goal in 13 games for Borussia Dortmund on Saturday

AS featured the striker on their front page and his former coach reveals the secrets to success

The prolific forward has 12 goals in his first 13 appearances for Dortmund and every top team in Europe is chasing the youngster. 

He’s netted 41 goals combined already this season and from an early age, it was clear he was destined for sporting greatness. 

Son of Manchester City legend Alf-Inge Haaland and Norwegian national heptathlete champion Gry Marita, followed in his mother’s athletic footsteps as a child, breaking the standing long jump world record for the Under-5 age group with a leap of 1.63m.

At 13, former coach Alf-Ingve Berntsen knew he’d go all the way: ‘At 13 years old I already saw that this kid was going to make the Norwegian national team.

‘He has a very special work ethic and tactical sense.’

But Haaland’s physique needed developing and a combination of freak genetics and a voracious work ethic made for astonishing results.  

Steenslid said: ‘His body responds so well to training because his genetics are privileged.

‘He gained twelve kilos of muscle in fifteen months. It was crazy. We built his muscle from scratch. He was always the closest to the buffet and his plate was literally a mountain of food.

‘I designed a circuit for him where at one of the stations he had to hit a sack… and one day he split it in half.’

Haaland is still developing physically and packing on muscle to go with his 6ft 4in frame

His desire to work almost went too far at Salzburg and manager Jesse Marsch had to tell him to stop as he was putting himself at risk of injury. 

Even away from the pitch, Haaland tries to gain any little edge he can, meditating and using special blue light glasses to take away the glare from screens and help him sleep better.  

At 6ft 4in, Haaland towers over most players on the pitch but has the agility and speed to outmanoeuvre most. 

That said, during his time at Molde, he experienced a goal drought and credits former boss now Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with helping him become razor sharp in front of goal.  

Haaland experienced a few issues with his finishing at Molde but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer helped

Before a game against Brann, he did some extra work with Solskjaer on finishing. 

‘I remember he taught me some easy rules. That was something he taught me in the days before that game,’ Haaland said earlier this year. 

‘He has taught me a lot to be calm, and also be on your toes and come to those situation where the ball is coming.

‘It is then you have the chance to score. He deserves a lot of credit for teaching me that.’

The advice seemed to do the trick with Haaland scoring four times in the first 20 minutes of the game. The goals have been flowing ever since.

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Justin Langer: Australia coach sees value in behind-closed-doors games

Australia coach Justin Langer supports the idea of playing cricket behind closed doors when safe to do so, as it will have “great value” to the public.

Langer’s side beat New Zealand at an empty Sydney Cricket Ground on 13 March before the coronavirus pandemic halted the series and cricket worldwide.

And he would be happy to play in an empty stadium again.

“When you started off playing underage cricket, there’s no crowds there,” Langer told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“Maybe your mum and dad came and watched, or your brother and sister were bored and playing on the swings somewhere else.

“You played it because you loved playing the game, you loved playing with your mates and you loved playing the game.

“The Australian cricket team are so fortunate to play in front of big crowds every time we play.

“But for the love of the game, and for still being able to entertain people through TV sets or radio, then there’s value in that.

  • Listen to more from Langer on BBC Radio 5 Live’s The Guest List
  • Cricket behind closed doors could help – Morgan

“Yes it’s different, but we’ll never, ever, ever take for granted how lucky we are, ever again. We are so lucky in what we do.”

The series against New Zealand was called off after the first one-day international in Sydney, and Langer acknowledged that it has been a new experience getting used to having time off with his family.

“I say this with absolute respect and compassion for everyone who’s suffering at the moment, but it’s bit like nirvana for me,” he said.

“I’m at home with the family. I get home-cooked dinners, I sleep in my own bed, I can go into my own garden, I see my kids every single day, and usually in my life, I’m away 10 months of the year.

“Frankly, I hope it makes a change to our whole society. We’ve got so busy, haven’t we? We’ve got so many incidents of mental health problems in Australia now. We’ve got drug misuse, we’ve got domestic violence, we’ve got all sorts of things that go on.

“Hopefully this is a time for everyone to stop and take a breath and find some balance – not just in the life of a sportsperson, but in every sector in the world.

“So hopefully we’ll all find a bit of balance, and there’ll be some silver linings that come out of this terrible crisis that’s affecting everyone in the world at the moment.”

While all sport schedules are subject to change because of the pandemic, Australia’s next scheduled assignments are a two-Test series in Bangladesh in mid-June, followed by limited-overs internationals in Scotland and England between late June and mid-July.

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