Terrible news: Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan says he has Parkinson’s disease, Lewy body dementia

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This is depressing news.

Jerry Sloan, the tough former Bulls player who went on to coach the Utah Jazz for 23 seasons, is suffering from both Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia. The very private Sloan spoke to Steve Luhm of the Salt Lake Tribune about his health.

During an interview at his home in Riverton, with his wife Tammy at his side, Sloan said he was diagnosed with the illnesses last fall. He decided to go public with because the Parkinson’s symptoms, which include tremors, a hushed voice and sleeplessness, have progressed to the point where people have started to notice.

“I don’t want people feeling sorry for me,” said Sloan, who continues to walk four miles a day.

That’s about the most Jerry Sloan quote ever.

The Utah Jazz released this statement:

“Jerry Sloan is and always will be a beloved member of the Utah Jazz family, and we know he will approach this fight with the same grit and determination he displayed as a Hall of Fame coach and All-Star player in the NBA for 40-plus years. On behalf of the Miller family, the Jazz organization and Jazz fans everywhere, we send Jerry and his wife Tammy our love, support and best wishes.”

Parkinson’s disease “is a chronic and progressive movement disorder, meaning that symptoms continue and worsen over time…. The cause is unknown, and although there is presently no cure, there are treatment options such as medication and surgery to manage its symptoms” according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation website. Parkinson’s most commonly associated with shaking hands, but that is just one symptom of a disease that attacks the nerve cells in the brain where dopamine is produced.

Lewy body dementia is less well known; it is a form of dementia that can be associated with Parkinson’s.

The Sloan we all know is a strong man and as fierce a competitor as the league has ever seen.

Sloan’s playing career and coaching style were the very definition of old-school, but he got the most out of his teams. In his 11-year playing career, Sloan was a two-time All-Star who made the NBA’s All-Defensive team six times.

However, it’s as a coach that Sloan is best remembered — and why he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He coached the John Stockton/Karl Malone Utah Jazz within a couple of Michael Jordan shots of an NBA championship, and his teams overall won 60 percent of their games. He is third on the all-time wins list for coaches.

We wish nothing but the best for Sloan and his family. Take care coach.