Spurs' Popovich releases statement on the passing of Jerry Sloan

SPRINGFIELD, MA - SEPTEMBER 11: Hall of Fame inductees David Robinson; Jerry Sloan and John Stockman smile during a press conference at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on September 11, 2009 in Springfield, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Jerry Sloan, the coach who took the Utah Jazz to the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998 on his way to a spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame, died Friday. He was 78.

The Jazz said he died from complications related to Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia.

Sloan spent 23 seasons coaching the Jazz. The team — with John Stockton and Karl Malone leading the way in many of those seasons — finished below .500 in only one of those years. Sloan won 1,221 games in his career, the fourth-highest total in NBA history.

San Antonio Spurs head coach, Gregg Popovich, released a statement on Sloan's passing.

The Jazz system under Sloan was the blueprint Popovich implemented in San Antonio. He's openly stated Sloan's approach to the game was something he modeled with the Spurs.

“I’ve always been impressed with the Jazz,” Popovich said to the Deseret News in 2019, “from way, way, way back when.”

When Popovich passed Sloan on the NBA coaches win list, he was quick to say Sloan was still light years ahead of him.

"He’s in a different league than I am," said Popovich.

Twitter: @JeffGSpursZone

(AP contributed to this post)