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‘He was the heart and soul of the Utah Jazz for years’: Notable Utahns react to the passing of Jerry Sloan

Gov. Gary Herbert chats with former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and Jeff Robbins, president and CEO of the Utah Sports Commission, at the Governor’s State of Sport Awards at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Thursday, April 13, 2017. In a statement after news circulated that Sloan passed away Friday morning, Herbert said, ““Jerry Sloan was a fierce competitor and disciplinarian — and he was the heart and soul of the Utah Jazz for years.”
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — As news broke Friday morning that legendary Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan passed away, numerous prominent local figures shared their condolences and thoughts about the Hall of Famer.

“Jerry Sloan was a fierce competitor and disciplinarian — and he was the heart and soul of the Utah Jazz for years,” Gov. Gary Herbert said in a statement. “His emphasis on defense and team play got the most raw talent out of the players. He was ‘old school’ and will be greatly missed. Our prayers are with Jerry Sloan’s family and friends as they mourn his passing.”

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, an avid Jazz fan, released a statement he had also tweeted that read, “I didn’t expect to cry today. Jerry wouldn’t like that. I’m heartbroken. Much will be written and said about him, but this is all you need to know. They say you should never meet your heros ... but over the past few years I did. And he was everything I hoped he would be.”

United States Senator Mitt Romney wrote on Twitter, “Deeply saddened by the passing of legendary Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. Jerry is an icon—an embodiment of Utah values. It’s hard to put into words the impact he’s had in our state. Our thoughts are with his family, loved ones, and the entire Jazz community.”

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall released a statement that read, “Jerry Sloan wasn’t just a coach for the Utah Jazz, he was our coach. We looked up to coach Sloan and learned from him because he was a man of dignity and principle. His impact is profound, and we will forever appreciate his contribution to our state. I’m thinking today of his family, his team, and everyone he touched in his incredible life. Rest well, coach.”

Utah Utes men’s basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak, who played for the Jazz under Sloan during the 1992-93 season and has a similar no-nonsense attitude as Sloan did, released a statement that read, “Jerry brought a farming and working man’s discipline to this great game of basketball. Nothing ever complicated ... just get the job done!

“He was a fighter and epitomized the word TOUGHNESS, but also had the ability to connect with everyone around him. You knew with Jerry you had a chance because he was in the foxhole with you. Always loyal and dependable. It will always be an honor to call him Friend and Coach.”

Utes football coach Kyle Whittingham also released a statement via Twitter sending his condolences.

Both Utah athletic director Mark Harlan and BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe also tweeted their condolences.

Longtime U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, who was in that position during Sloan’s entire coaching career in Utah, said in a statement, “Jerry Sloan will always have a special place in NBA history — and in the hearts of all Utahns. He was a dynamic leader who transformed the Utah Jazz from a small franchise team to a perennial powerhouse. His contributions to our state and to the game of basketball will long live on. May God bless Jerry Sloan and all members of the Jazz family.”

Former Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz wrote on Twitter, “Great coach. Wishing his family the deepest of sympathies on his passing. God bless.”

Utah Senate President J. Stuart Adams said in a statement, “Today Utah lost a basketball legend Jerry Sloan, who was one of the most respected and most distinguished coaches in NBA history. Like most Utahns, basketball players and fans, I mourn the loss of our “coach.” My prayers and heartfelt condolences go out to his personal family as well as his basketball family.”