Legendary NBA coach Jerry Sloan has resigned as head coach of the Utah Jazz after 23 seasons in the role.
The 68-year-old coached the team to 1,121 regular season wins during an impressive career which saw them reach the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998, only to be thwarted on both occasions by Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls.
At an emotional press conference Sloan said: “I had a feeling this time was the time to move on. That's a long time to be in one organization. Again, I've been blessed. Today is a new day. When I get this over with, I'll feel better. My time is up and it's time to move on."
Sloan, who was announced into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, had a successful career as a player before taking over coaching duties at the Chicago Bulls in 1979 and then the Utah Jazz in 1988. He was a two-time NBA All-Star as player in 1967 and 1969.
His resignation was coupled with that of long-time assistant Phil Johnson. Jazz CEO Greg Miller also said he tried to talk Sloan out of retiring: He said: “I loved and respected Jerry for as long as I can remember. I will miss him but benefit from the things he taught me for the rest of my life."
NBA commissioner David Stern said: “Few people have epitomized all the positives of team sports more than Jerry Sloan. A basketball lifer, Jerry was as relentless in his will to win on the sidelines for the Utah Jazz as he was as an All-Star guard for the Chicago Bulls.
“In over two decades as a coach, he taught his players that nothing was more important than the team. His most impressive qualities were his leadership and his extraordinary ability to encourage his players to subjugate their individual games for the benefit of the whole.
“Two trips to The Finals and over 1,200 regular-season victories more than validate his philosophy. Jerry moves on having established himself as one of the greatest and most respected coaches in NBA history. I and the rest of the NBA family wish him great success and happiness as he moves to the next chapter of his life.”