Jerry Sloan Rumors
Friday morning started with a visit to, at least by Tammy Sloan’s estimation, the only man in Utah who hasn’t been following the Jazz’s first-round playoff series: her husband’s doctor. It has been just more than two years since Jerry Sloan revealed to the world that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and Lewy body dementia, diseases that have begun to strip the mind and motor skills of one of the greatest coaches in NBA history. There are good days. More and more, there are bad ones because that’s how diseases so cruel work.
On this day, however, the 76-year-old Sloan feels well enough to have a stranger in his immaculate home on the southwest side of the Salt Lake Valley, to sit and answer a reporter’s questions. “He’s going to pick your brain,” his wife says. “It won’t take him long,” the coach deadpans.
Jerry Sloan is still a towering figure, standing 6 feet, 5 inches tall, dressed in a blue Jazz sweatshirt with the team’s blue and purple mountain logo from 2004-10, blue pants and white Adidas sneakers. He is no longer as imposing as he once was when he was the fiery leader of the Jazz. He moves a little more slowly and his eyes have softened. He takes a seat in the corner of his office and places his massive hand on his knee. It immediately starts to shake.
“I feel OK,” he says, and he speaks matter-of-factly about his condition. “I’ve got a disease. It’s really kind of strange because my mind changes and then I can’t remember. That throws me off a little bit.” The symptoms of his Lewy body dementia have been “kicking in more lately,” his wife says, so sometimes he loses his train of thought. Then the coach laughs to himself. “My brain’s been misfiring my whole life,” he says.
Sloan’s doctors recommend he remain active — physically and socially — to combat the effects of his dementia, so his wife keeps his calendar full. They go out most nights, often enjoying dinner with former Jazz coach Frank Layden and his wife, Barbara, or with former Jazz center Mark Eaton. Sloan and other longtime Jazz staffers meet for lunch on the first Tuesday of each month. And as often as they can, Jerry and Tammy Sloan will be at the arena. “The games really are the highlight of his life right now,” Tammy Sloan says.
Sloan sat last week with John Stockton, the Hall of Fame point guard, who remains one of Sloan’s closest friends. Stockton calls each week to check in on his coach’s health. “He made more money than everybody else,” Sloan says. “We try to stay as close to him as possible.”