The news that Jerry Sloan was stepping down from his position as head coach of the Utah Jazz, a position he has held since 1988, managed to surprise more people than just those living in the state of Utah. The entire sporting world was shocked and former Phoenix Suns owner Jerry Colangelo, who has a history with Sloan, was among them.
“Jerry was a true-grit, throwback guy. Not only as a coach but as a player,” Colangelo said on Sports 620 KTAR’s Doug and Wolf Friday morning. “I don’t know the details about anything yet, but he’s had such a long run it may just very well be he had had it. That was enough.”
Long before he became known as the ‘Godfather of Phoenix’ for the way he built many of Arizona’s major sports teams, Colangelo built up Sloan’s resume as a basketball star by helping him get recruited to play at Illinois. The two have been connected ever since.
Sloan left Illinois after two weeks and played at the University of Evansville under legendary coach Arad McCutchan where he became a small college All-American, Colangelo reminisced. Sloan was drafted by the Baltimore Bullets before Colangelo, then with the start-up Chicago Bulls, got him in the expansion draft and jump-started his legendary playing and coaching career in the NBA.