Jazz honor Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan by raising '1,223' banner
The Jazz paid tribute to Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan by raising a "1,223" banner to the Energy Solutions Arena rafters during a Friday night game against the Warriors.
Sloan, 71, has long been synonymous with the Jazz, whom he coached from 1988 until 2011. That tenure was highlighted by two trips to the NBA Finals, and Sloan accumulated a total of 1,223 wins while in Utah (1,127 in the regular season and 96 more in the playoffs).
“The number 1,223 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 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.”
Sloan joked at a pre-game press conference that he thought the 1,223 banner recognized the number of technical fouls he accumulated during his career.
Utah honored Sloan at halftime of their 95-90 loss to Golden State. Sloan was first presented with a jersey bearing his name and the number "1,223" before he proceeded to pull on a purple and white rope that raised a banner that read "Jerry Sloan -- 1,223 wins -- 1988-2011" to the building's rafters, where it now resides alongside the Jazz's other retired jerseys.
"I'm the most blessed coach in basketball because of the type of people we have here, and the type of players we had," Sloan told the home crowd. "I'm indebted to them for the way they supported this franchise and supported the coaching staff while we were here. Thank you very much."
Upon his abrupt retirement in 2011, Sloan was the longest tenured coach with the same franchise in any of the major professional sports and his streak of 1,809 consecutive games coaching the same team is an NBA record. He first joined the Jazz in 1983 as a scout before moving on to take an assistant coaching position. Sloan, now serving as a senior basketball advisor for the Jazz, is the winningest coach in franchise history with a record of 1,127-682 (.623), and his career total of 1,221 wins ranks third all-time, trailing only Don Nelson and Lenny Wilkens.
The 2009 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee's banner will hang next to the retired numbers of Adrian Dantley (No. 4), Mark Eaton (No. 53), Darrell Griffin (No. 35), Jeff Hornacek (No. 14), Karl Malone (No. 32), Pete Maravich (No. 7) and John Stockton (No. 12), and next to banners honoring former coach and GM Frank Layden (No. 1), longtime owner Larry H. Miller (No. 9), broadcaster Hot Rod Hundley (3,051).
"I've gained way too much credit for what I've done," Sloan said Thursday. "[Stockton and Malone] deserve way more credit for what they've done."
Stockton replied: "If you have a chief that can keep you on the same page ... the wins take care of themselves."
President Barack Obama sent Sloan a hand-written note this week -- signed "with great admiration" -- to acknowledge the coach's many accomplishments.
"Congratulations on your long and remarkable career with the Jazz," Obama wrote. "Utah justly honors you for the standard of excellence you set with the Mailman and Stockton."
Outgoing NBA commissioner David Stern also expressed his gratitude to Sloan in a video message.
"Thank you for your Hall of Fame coaching career," Stern said. "[Thank you] for helping so much to contribute to the growth of the NBA."
The Jazz first announced their plans to honor Sloan back in December with this video tribute.
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 Stockton and Malone.
“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 was a two-time All-Star as a player during an 11-year career spent mostly with the Bulls. In 1978, Chicago retired his No. 4 jersey, the first time that honor was bestowed by the franchise.