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Ex-Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan dies at age 78

(AP) – Jerry Sloan walked up the steps to the stage at the Basketball Hall of Fame to give his enshrinement speech in 2009, almost as if he were dreading what the next few minutes would bring.

He never wanted the spotlight. “This is pretty tough for me,” Sloan said that night. Talking about himself, that wasn’t easy. But basketball, he always made that seem simple.

Sloan, who spent 23 years as coach of the Utah Jazz and took the team to the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998, died Friday at 78. The team said that for four years he had Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia.

Sloan presided over the glory days of the John Stockton and Karl Malone pick-and-roll-to-perfection era in Salt Lake City. He is fourth on the NBA’s victory list.

Sloan was a two-time All-Star as a player with the Chicago Bulls, led his alma mater, Evansville, to a pair of NCAA college division national championships and was an assistant coach on the 1996 U.S. Olympic team that won a gold medal at the Atlanta Games.

“His more than 40 years in the NBA also paralleled a period of tremendous growth in the league, a time when we benefited greatly from his humility, kindness, dignity and class,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

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