Longtime Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan opened up to the Salt Lake Tribune today and revealed that he was suffering from Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia, a form of the disease that effects the body’s neurological system. The Sloans said that Jerry was diagnosed last fall:
“You try to be be optimistic,” said Tammy Sloan, who is sitting next to her husband. “But it is what it is. Jerry’s had a wonderful life — the best life you can possibly imagine. But this is not going to reverse itself and go away.”
There are good days, however.
“When a basketball game comes on TV,” Tammy Sloan said, “he knows everything that’s ever happened.”
Sloan, who coached the Jazz from 1988 to 2011, turned 74 last week.
“It was life-and-death once,” her husband noted.
Last week, former Utah Jazz executive assistant Judy Adams organized a surprise party for Sloan’s 74th birthday. A handful of close friends attended, including Frank Layden, who hired Sloan as one of his assistant coaches in 1984.
“Every day is a different day,” Tammy Sloan said. “Some days he’s fine and some days he’s not-so-fine. But at that birthday party, he was as normal as he’s ever been. … He was in prime form, telling stories.’”
Sloan has the third-most wins of all time for an NBA head coach, and he is the only coach ever to win 1,000 games with a single team besides Gregg Popovich. He had been with the Jazz for five years before he became the head coach, and he returned in 2013 to an advisory role (the story says he helped them draft Trey Lyles).
According to the Sloans, Jerry’s condition has begun to decline, but remains optimistic, and is trying to get as many opinions and treatments as he can, which includes some “nontraditional” options that John Stockton recommended:
Sloan continues to see several doctors. He has a checkup scheduled for Thursday at the University of Utah. At the urging of former Jazz star John Stockton, he has also driven to Pocatello for some nontraditional treatments.
Once, during a discussion of possible ways to fight his illnesses, a doctor suggested Sloan learn a foreign language to help keep his mind active, and to start playing the piano to help his coordination.