The Jazz announced Monday that Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan will be honored with a jersey retirement ceremony when Utah hosts Golden State on Jan. 31.
Sloan, 71, coached the Jazz from 1988 until his resignation in 2011, guiding Utah to the Finals in 1997 and 1998 and posting 16 consecutive winning seasons. All told, Sloan coached the Jazz for 1,809 games over 23 seasons, marking the longest coaching tenure in NBA history, and he was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.
“I am thrilled to announce our plans to retire a jersey and celebrate the enduring legacy of Jerry Sloan, one of the greatest and most respected coaches in NBA history,” Miller Sports president Steve Miller said in a statement. “We welcome Jazz fans to join us as we honor Jerry for his accomplishments and recognize his countless contributions to the Jazz franchise and state of Utah.”
Back in June, Sloan rejoined the Jazz as a senior basketball adviser after spending two years away from the organization following his abrupt resignation in Feb. 2011 amid reports of locker-room disagreements with Deron Williams.
The jersey retirement will mark the second of Sloan's career, as the Bulls retired his No. 4 jersey to recognize an 11-year playing career that included two All-Star appearances and six All-Defensive team selections. His was the first jersey to be retired by Chicago.
Known for his legendary competitiveness, Sloan became synonymous with consistency and reliability during his two-plus decades on Utah's sidelines, and he oversaw one of the great two-man combinations in league history with John Stockton and Karl Malone.
"Jerry's great at bringing intensity to his team, having players that respond to him, having a very consistent offense," Bulls coach Phil Jackson told Sports Illustrated in 1997. "The Jazz do a lot of things that although they are quite routine and similar, still have the twists and innovations that enable them to win close games."
Although he never won a title as a player or as a coach, Sloan's 1,221-803 (.603) career coaching record ranks him No. 3 in wins and No. 6 in winning percentage. Sloan's 1,127 wins with Utah are the most by any coach with a single team.
"Some people think if you don't win a championship, it makes you a lesser person," Sloan told Sports Illustrated in 1997. "I think there's a lot to be said for coming back year after year, like we have, and trying to get better. I think the value of that is what sports is able to teach us."
Sloan will join a number of his former players and colleagues in the Energy Solutions Arena rafters. The Jazz have previously retired jerseys for Adrian Dantley (4), Mark Eaton (53), Darrell Griffith (35), Jeff Hornacek (14), Malone (32), Pete Maravich (7), Stockton (12), coach and GM Frank Layden (1), owner Larry H. Miller (9), and broadcaster “Hot” Rod Hundley (3051). Sloan coached Eaton, Griffith, Hornacek, Malone and Stockton, he worked with Layden, he worked for Miller, and Hundley called a vast majority of Sloan's games.
The NBA will see multiple jersey retirement ceremonies this season. The Nets honored Jason Kidd in September, the Cavaliers plan to honor Zydrunas Ilgauskas in March, and the Sixers will honor Allen Iverson in March.
Video via YouTube user Utah Jazz