Utah Jazz fans across the state are dealing with the death of Jerry Sloan today. Many said they feel like they lost a member of their family. Sloan connected people and gave so many so much to believe in.
“We lost a good man,” said Jazz fan Doug Wagstaff.
The Wagstaff family are lifelong jazz fans and Jerry Sloan fans.
“He was a poster of excellence, and I think we as Jazz fans and as Utahns we grabbed onto that,” said Doug Wagstaff.
Sloan's presence is felt all around Salt Lake City, in murals dedicated to the Utah Jazz, and in the spirit of the fans.
The Wagstaffs, like countless others, feel Jerry Sloan stood for what they believe in.
“He worked hard, and I think we as Utahns work hard. Whatever we do, we give it our all and he did. He definitely gave it his all when he was coaching,” said Wendy Wagstaff.
For fans who grew up with him Sloan was more than a coach.
“He was our coach, but he was also like our grandpa,” said Josh Wagstaff.
An extremely tough grandpa.
“He picked up the chair, and slammed it out the ground. And it’s like yes!” said Josh Wagstaff.
“It got the fans going, and I’m sure as a player when you know the coach is behind you, you’re going to go all out for him,” said Doug Wagstaff.
They said in their interactions with Jerry at games through the years, he showed he was caring, he was passionate, he was the Jazz. The Wagstaffs said they loved watching Jerry at games, as much as they liked watching the players. They said he was impressive, earning the respect of his team, his opponents, and his fans.
Sloan made huge strides in Utah basketball, but also did so much for the state as a whole. Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox said there is no question that Sloan’s success and longevity helped Utah’s economy.
“Getting the All-Star game Back in 1993, of course getting the Olympics in 2002. And really getting the All-Star game, that’s coming back in a couple years. All of that starts with Jerry Sloan,” said Cox.
Cox said when he met Sloan he was exactly who he hoped he’d be: kind, humble, and straight to the point. Sloan’s talent brought a spotlight to Salt Lake City that is still shining today.