February 10, 2011: At the time the longest-tenured coach in any of the four major professional sports, Jerry Sloan resigns in the midst of his 23rd season leading the Utah Jazz. Sloan began working for the Jazz as a scout in 1983 and became an assistant to coach Frank Layden the following year. He replaced Layden in December, 1988. Sloan is the only coach in NBA history to win 1,000 games with one team. Sloan, who also coached the Chicago Bulls for three seasons, finished with 1,221 career victories, third on the NBA career list behind Don Nelson and Lenny Wilkens.
As a player, Sloan was a star at Evansville before being taken in the first round (the fourth overall pick) by the Baltimore Bullets in the 1965 NBA Draft. He played his rookie year with the Bullets—then was scooped up as a charter member of the Chicago Bulls in the 1966 expansion draft. Sloan played 10 seasons in Chicago and became known as the “Original Bull.” He was the first player every to have his jersey retired by the franchise.
Sloan’s years in Utah were remarkable. He led the Jazz to 15 consecutive playoff appearances and took then to the NBA Finals twice, falling to the Bulls in 1997 and 1998. (Did Michael Jordan foul Byron Russell on Jordan’s championship-winning shot in Game 6 in 1998? Did he?) Sloan was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2009, and his star point guard with the Jazz, NBA career assists leader John Stockton, was in the same class. He passed away in May, 2020.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)