RIP, Jerry Sloan, Utah Jazz Hero Coach

I might be the only living person in Salt Lake City who is not a Jazz fan. Just not interested in pro sports generally, plus I’m not from here so I don’t have that nationalistic fervor.

But I do know Jerry Sloan is fanatically beloved. So I asked my (step)son Sam Warchol, a basketball fan from birth, what was so special about Jerry Sloan, the longtime Jazz coach who died yesterday after a bout with Parkinson’s and Lewy Body dementia. Here’s what he said, with all the hyperbole (or is it?) reserved for sports heroes:

“Jerry Sloan was the greatest coach of all time.

With 1,223 wins, Sloan is in the top five amongst his peers. However—perhaps more importantly, —Sloan’s hard-nosed coaching laid all the groundwork for a fledgling Jazz team, in a city without any semblance of jazz music, struggling to stay in the NBA.

Epitomizing 80s and 90s basketball, Jerry Sloan was tough as nails and grittier than sandpaper, without a single damn about what anyone had to say. With these qualities tied to two of his most notable players, John Stockton and Karl Malone, the trio carried the Utah Jazz to become one of the most greatest franchises today. There would be no Jazz without what he did.”

Famous for his salty mouth, most of Sloan’s notable quotes can’t be quoted. Because, as Sam Warchol says, Sloan was at heart just a tough, gritty, blue-collar SOB.”

He loved riding his John Deer tractor around his Illinois farm. The team made this picture to sum up their beloved coach—1,223 is the number of his wins.

Why did you love Jerry Sloan? We’d love to hear your memories and comments.




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Mary Brown Malouf
Mary Brown Malouf
Mary Brown Malouf is the late Executive Editor of Salt Lake magazine and Utah's expert on local food and dining. She still does not, however, know how to make a decent cup of coffee.

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