jerry sloan

Former Chicago Bull and Hall-of-Fame NBA Coach Jerry Sloan Dies at 78

He became the first player in Bulls' history to have his number retired when the franchise retired his No. 4 jersey in 1978

Head coach Jerry Sloan of the Chicago Bulls looks on from the sidelines against the Washington Bullets during an NBA basketball game circa 1981

Former Chicago Bull and Hall-of-Fame coach Jerry Sloan died Friday. He was 78.

According to the Utah Jazz, the team he took to the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998, Sloan died from complications related to Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia.

Sloan, a native of McLeansboro, Illinois, coached the Bulls for three seasons and was a two-time NBA All-Star as a player for 11 seasons with both Chicago and Baltimore. He became the first player in Bulls' history to have his number retired when the franchise retired his No. 4 jersey in 1978.

In a tweet following his death, the team remembered him as "The Original Bull."

“Jerry Sloan was ‘The Original Bull’ whose tenacious defense and nightly hustle on the court represented the franchise and epitomized the city of Chicago," Chicago Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. "Jerry was the face of the Bulls organization from its inception through the mid-1970s, and very appropriately, his uniform No. 4 was the first jersey retired by the team. A great player and a Hall-of-Fame NBA coach, most importantly, Jerry was a great person. Our sympathies go out to the Sloan family and all his many fans.”

Sloan spent 23 seasons coaching the Jazz. The team — with John Stockton and Karl Malone leading the way in many of those seasons — finished below .500 in only one of those years. Sloan won 1,221 games in his career, the fourth-highest total in NBA history.

Utah went to the finals twice under Sloan, both times falling to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

Sloan entered the Hall of Fame in 2009.

He spent 34 years in the employ of the Jazz organization, either as head coach, assistant, scout or senior basketball adviser. Sloan started as a scout, was promoted as an assistant under Frank Layden in 1984 and became the sixth coach in franchise history on Dec. 9, 1988, after Layden resigned.

“Like Stockton and Malone as players, Jerry Sloan epitomized the organization," the Jazz said in a statement. “He will be greatly missed.”

NBC Chicago/Associated Press
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