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It’s Time to Honor Jerry Sloan

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Build the statue.

Golden State Warriors v Utah Jazz Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

In recent reports from Gordon Monson, Coach Jerry Sloan is not doing well. Monson reported:

“It’s basically a slide into oblivion. He’s frail. He’s physically and mentally limited. Around the clock care is required for him,” Monson wrote. “Although in the more recent past the old coach has been able to attend Jazz games, he will go no more.”

A month or so ago I read this on Jazzfanz.com and shared it on twitter. It is not my story but one I read and felt people would want to hear it.

Coach Sloan means everything to the Utah Jazz and Jazz fans. Without Jerry, I don’t know if I would be the Jazz fan I am today. The consistency and professionalism with which he coached the team drew me to the Jazz. Jerry always had his players back, he always gave his all and expected that from every player from John Stockton and Karl Malone to Kyrlo Fesenko. When you watched a Sloan coached- Jazz team you knew that they were playing with all their hearts, giving 100%. I loved that about the Jazz and I loved that about Jerry Sloan. It became what Dennis Lindsey likes to call Jazz DNA.

When Sloan had his number retired in January 2014, SLC Dunk writer emeritus, Layton Shumway wrote a beautiful piece on Coach, “Honoring Jerry Sloan, The Man Least Likely To Honor Jerry Sloan” It should be required reading for all Jazz fans, all current Jazz players and staff, and every future Jazz player. It defines Jerry, and it defines the Jazz.

From Layton’s 2014 article:

You know, when Jerry Sloan speaks, that he does not think of himself as one of the best basketball coaches of all time. He still defines himself as a farm boy from McLeansboro, Illinois. On anyone else, the John Deere caps of which he is so fond would be an affectation. But they are a part of him, as indelible as his crooked nose (proof of his trademark toughness) or his furious abuse of NBA officials (a practice he refers to as “making suggestions,” tongue firmly in cheek).

He does not think of himself as someone who has won 1,223 basketball games as Jazz head coach. Those were team efforts, team achievements. Likewise, the losses he endured -- over 600 of them -- were the fault of all, himself included.

Jerry Sloan is a paradox. He is the most unassuming of men, yet he strove for the pinnacle of athletic success for years. He is the ultimate competitor, yet he never achieved the ultimate victory over his competition. He won everything he needed, but lost what he wanted most.

Please go read Layton’s article on Sloan.

Sloan’s blood runs deep in the Utah Jazz. He bleeds purple. Sloan is one of the four most important people in Jazz history along with Larry Miller, John Stockton, and Karl Malone. If there is no Jerry, there is no modern-day Utah Jazz. He worked tirelessly for over 20 years to create the winning, hard-nosed, bring your lunchpail to work, culture of the Utah Jazz. The winning culture we enjoy today is in large part thanks for Jerry Sloan. Even this current roster has Jerry written all over it as he was the one that drew Dennis Lindsey’s attention to Rudy Gobert.

When a person means as much to a team as Sloan means to the Utah Jazz it is required to recognize him. Jerry was recognized in 2014 by having his number retired. #1223. The number of wins he accumulated with the Jazz. Many fans believe he should be recognized not only with a jersey retiring ceremony but in the same way that Stockton and Malone were honored, with a statue. Unassuming, Jerry would not seek this recognition nor would he say that he would want it. But it is time. Its time for the Utah Jazz to honor Jerry Sloan with a statue, a statue to go outside the Vivint Arena to stand in immortality like his hall-of-fame players, John Stockton and Karl Malone.