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The Downbeat #1264: The Jerry Sloan Edition

Tonight the Utah Jazz will honor the Hall of Fame coach, Jerry Sloan. Jerry was head coach of the Jazz for over 22 years, reaching 1223 wins (regular season and playoffs) with the team. Sloan is the only NBA coach in NBA history to reach over a thousand victories with one team.


The amazing coach, Jerry Sloan will have a jersey retired tonight by the Utah Jazz. The ceremony will take place during halftime of the Utah Jazz vs Golden State Warriors game. Remember the game starts at 8:30 p.m MST. The game is on both ROOT Sports and ESPN.

There also will be a press conference featuring Jerry Sloan, John Stockton and Karl Malone today at 5:00 p.m. streamed live on

Many have speculated what number will be on the jersey that honors Jerry. Jerry wore #4 for the Chicago Bulls as a player in the NBA. The Jazz already have #4 retired for Adrian Dantley.

The Jazz, unsurprisingly after seeing Hot Rod's new banner, has decided to have the number 1223 on Jerry's jersey. As reported by Jody, here is what Randy Rigby had to say:

"Incorporating both his regular season and playoff victories, the number 1223 was selected to embody all of Jerry’s accomplishments and his countless contributions to the Jazz franchise and state of Utah," Jazz president Randy Rigby said in a press release statement.

"This banner will serve as a symbol of the enduring legacy of Jerry Sloan, one of the greatest coaches in NBA history and forever a member of the Jazz family."

Amazing accomplishment to have 1223 wins with one team, its just incredible. The loyalty that Jerry showed to the Jazz and the Jazz showed to Jerry is unheard of today.

I liked the old retired jerseys. I loved the character and history they showed. I understand the need for uniformity but if the decision was mine I would have kept the old jerseys. I think Hot Rod's microphone was awesome and am a little sad they changed it. The new banners do look nice however and it will be excellent to see Sloan's banner right up there where it belongs.

If you were able to choose what number/symbol to retire on Jerry's banner what would it be?

Current Jazz players are fortunate to have Sloan back with the team as a consultant. Marvin Williams was in fact sad last year when he came to the team and Jerry was not a part of it.

Marvin on Jerry (via Moni)

You know what? When I first got traded to Utah, I'll be 100 percent honest: Coach Sloan was the only person that I actually wanted to sit down and meet. And I was really disappointed because I didn't have a chance to get to meet him last year. Didn't get a chance to sit down and talk to him, 'cause he wasn't around the team as much. But this year when I heard they were bringing him back as a consultant, he's been around the team; he's always at practice. I get a chance to sit down and speak to him a little bit, and it's been really good. He's been awesome, man. He's been nothing but first class. To kinda see him get honored on Friday night, even though I didn't play for him, to know what he's accomplished throughout his career, it's gonna be a special night not just for him but for everybody in this Utah Jazz community, because he has done so much for the community and done so much for this team. So I think everybody's excited. He's definitely well-deserving of everything he's accomplished, and I think we're all looking forward to Friday night.

I think its great that Jerry is back in the day-to day business with the Jazz. Jerry has so much to offer our players and coaches.

While I did not think it was possible for me to love Jerry anymore than I did, watching this interview with Jerry however increased my love for him by leaps and bounds. (HUGE thanks to Moni for sharing this video with me)

Jerry was interviewed in 2012 when his high school gymnasium was named after him. It is a half hour long interview, please watch the entire 30 minutes. It is just incredible to learn more about Jerry and his interesting life.

Some highlights for me:

  • The admiration Jerry holds for his high school, college and NBA coaches. Jerry learned hard work from every single one of his coaches, he learned to play the game the right way.
  • When Jerry left the University of Illinois to go home, he worked at a Whirlpool factory for five weeks before the new quarter at Evansville began. On his fifth or sixth day of work on the assembly line building fridges at Whirlpool, the foreman came down to Jerry to talk to him to ask how he was doing, it turns out Jerry was doing the job of two men. Jerry said he had never been so tired in his life. Listen to this story its about 7 minutes into the interview, I am not giving justice to it.
  • How he came to work for the Jazz thanks to Phil Johnson. (Who was leaving for the Kings)
  • Jerry reminiscing about the the Finals, showing respect to the Bulls when all of the sudden he says

If Bryon Russell would have been holding the ball and shoved Jordan down they would have called a foul.

  • Jerry sharing how honored he feels when he watches NBA games and he sees a team running one of his plays. He says its like a pat on the back.
  • The admiration and respect he shows when talking about John Stockton, Karl Malone, Frank Layden and Larry Miller.
If you ever wanted to know what it would be like to hear Jerry tell the story of his life, watch this video! I shared maybe a 10th of the notes I took when watching it, there is so much more to enjoy.

Moni in 2010 wrote one of the greatest posts on Jerry Sloan. Moni in her magical way found amazing stories and tidbits about Jerry's playing and coaching career.

An excerpt from that post:

During Jerry’s fourth year in Chicago, the Bulls were fighting to keep their season alive and had to win four out of five games in five nights to make the Playoffs. They won their first three games, but Jerry broke two ribs and separated his sternum when Lew Alcindor [i.e. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar] knocked him down with just seconds to go in the third game.

"[The doctor that met the team at the airport that night] told us that Sloan shouldn’t go, that he should stay home. But Jerry insisted on going just to be with the team. We just needed one more win. The next day I went to the arena, and Sloan was there. He said, ‘I couldn’t sleep. I’ve been walking around. I’ve found this little corset thing. Let me warm up.’

"I said, ‘No, I’m not gonna let you,’" Motta recalled. "He said, ‘Coach, you gotta let me warm up.’ So he warmed up … Later…he came up to me and said, ‘You know I’ve never asked you to do one thing. I’ve never told you to do one thing. I’m gonna ask one favor now.’

"I said, ‘What’s that, Jerry?’

"He said, ‘If I were you, I’d start me.’

"I started him," Motta said, "and he couldn’t raise his arm. Chet Walker and I had to stretch the uniform to get him in it. His ribs were broken, but he just wouldn’t quit. We were down three early in the second half, and Cincinnati called a quick timeout. In the huddle, Jerry said, ‘C’mon guys, let’s go. We’ve come from 33 down before.’

"I looked up at the clock and said, ‘Jerry, what’s wrong?’

"He said, ‘Oh, I thought we were down 33.’

"The pain was so excruciating that he was incoherent," Motta said. "He was going on an empty tank. We won the game in overtime, and made the playoffs. I was able to rest Jerry the last game, and he played in the playoffs."

("Stockton to Malone: The Rise of the Utah Jazz" by Roland Lazenby)

Jerry, the toughest of them all.

A brilliant gif of Jerry



Read the rest of Moni's post it is fantastic, perfect for Jerry Sloan Day.

I am going to the game tonight. I am so happy it worked for our family to make the trip to Utah and attend the game. Jerry Sloan is one of the main reasons I am as avid of a Jazz fan that I am today.

Jerry stood by the Jazz when Stockton and Malone left, when most HOF coaches would have looked for greener pastures. Jerry stood by the Jazz when Larry had to be conservative with his money and was unable to build contending teams around Stockton and Malone. Jerry stood by the Jazz when the locker room was being torn apart by a backup point guard. Jerry stood by the Jazz when they changed GMs. Jerry stood by the Jazz when his wife died and Jerry stood by the Jazz when Larry died.

Jerry may be the toughest of them all but he also is the loyalist of them all.

If I had the opportunity to thank Jerry for all he did I don't know if I could possibly say all that I am grateful for that he did for the Jazz. I would not appreciate the game if it was not for the way Jerry coached the game. I would not understand how it was played if not for Jerry's beautiful offense. Jerry being the coach of the Jazz was a staple in my childhood and early adult life. Jerry was the coach when I was a child and he was the coach when I had children. It was comforting to have something so consistent in my life. Jerry was part of the Jazz's original Core Four. I cannot thank Jerry enough for helping to keep the Jazz in Utah, helping the Jazz to consistently win and of course helping the Jazz to be one of the most respected NBA franchises.

I have only been star struck twice in my life and meeting Jerry Sloan was one of those times. After a preseason game about five years ago, we were walking around the ESA to get to our car. We happened to walk by where the players and coaches leave their parking lot. We of course paused and enjoyed watching players drive by with the other fans. Most players waved but didn't stop. I can understand that, they want to get home. Andrei Kirilenko stopped and signed autographs, he was incredibly nice to my children, who were young at the time. Kirilenko is probably the nicest Jazz players I have ever interacted with. Jerry Sloan was the only other person to stop. Jerry signed autographs and talked to every fan who wanted his attention. Jerry was very friendly, so kind and very nice. Jerry made everyone who talked to him feel special. How many prestigious coaches like Jerry would stop and talk to fans like he did?

Jerry deserves every honor he receives tonight.

If you could tell Jerry thank you, what would you say to him?