Sad news from the NBA family: Jerry Sloan, the longtime Jazz coach, revealed Wednesday he has Parkinson’s disease.
Sloan told the Salt Lake Tribune that he learned he had the illness last fall. At first he kept the diagnosis a secret outside of his family, then decided to go public, which one caveat: “I don’t want people feeling sorry for me.”
Sloan is 74, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2009 and served as Jazz coach for just over 23 seasons. He’s the third all-time winningest coach in the NBA history, reached the Western Conference finals five times in a seven-year stretch and the NBA Finals twice with Karl Malone and John Stockton. Before serving as an assistant coach and head coach with the Jazz, Sloan was a rugged guard with the Bulls and formed one of the league’s toughest backcourt tandems with Norm Van Lier.
Sloan was a testament to longevity in a profession that lacks the kind of security he enjoyed with the Jazz. He stepped down from his position following a rift with Deron Williams, but said that incident alone wasn’t the reason he retired.
Sloan also told the paper he’s dealing with a form of dementia, although he exercises regularly and walks four miles daily.
There is no cure for Parkinson’s and the Tribune said in Sloan’s case, the disease is progressing.